How to Select Rows, Columns, or Worksheets in Excel

Use these Microsoft Excel shortcuts to select rows and columns of data.

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By selecting specific ranges of cells, such as entire rows, columns, data tables, or even complete worksheets, it can make it quick and easy to accomplish many different tasks in Excel. Changing column/row dimensions, hiding columns/rows, inserting new columns/rows, and applying cell formatting, can all be accomplished quickly by selecting spreadsheet cells.

Select Entire Rows in a Worksheet

Screenshot of Excel showing how to select an entire row

Using Shortcut Keys to Select a Worksheet Row

  1. Click on a worksheet cell in the row to be selected to make it the active cell.
  2. Press and hold down the Shift key on the keyboard.
  3. Press and release the Spacebar key on the keyboard.
  4. Release the Shift key.
  5. All cells in the selected row should be highlighted — including the row header.
Shift + Spacebar

Selecting Additional Rows

To select additional rows above or below the selected row:

  1. Press and hold down the Shift key on the keyboard.
  2. Use the Up or Down arrow keys on the keyboard to select additional rows above or below the selected row.

Select Rows With the Mouse

An entire row can also be selected by:

  1. Place the mouse pointer on the row number in the row header — the mouse pointer changes to a black arrow pointing to the right.
  2. Click once with the left mouse button.

Multiple rows can be selected by:

  1. Place the mouse pointer on the row number in the row header.
  2. Click and hold down the left mouse button.
  3. Drag the mouse pointer up or down to select the desired number of rows.

Select Entire Columns in a Worksheet

Screenshot of Excel showing how to select an entire column

Using Shortcut Keys to Select a Worksheet Column

  1. Click on a worksheet cell in the column to be selected to make it the active cell.
  2. Press and hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard.
  3. Press and release the Spacebar key on the keyboard.
  4. Release the Ctrl key.
  5. All cells in the selected column should be highlighted — including the column header.
Ctrl + Spacebar

Selecting Additional Columns

To select additional columns on either side of the selected column

  1. Press and hold down the Shift key on the keyboard.
  2. Use the Left or Right arrow keys on the keyboard to select additional columns on either side of the highlighted column.

Select Columns With the Mouse

An entire column can also be selected by:

  1. Place the mouse pointer on the column letter in the column header – the mouse pointer changes to a black arrow pointing down as shown in the image above.
  2. Click once with the left mouse button.

Multiple rows can be selected by:

  1. Place the mouse pointer on the column letter in the column header.
  2. Click and hold down the left mouse button.
  3. Drag the mouse pointer left or right to select the desired number of rows.

Select All Cells in a Worksheet

Screenshot of Excel showing how to select all cells in a worksheet

Using Shortcut Keys to Select All Cells in a Worksheet

  1. Click on a blank area of a worksheet — an area that contains no data in the surrounding cells.
  2. Press and hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard.
  3. Press and release the letter A key on the keyboard.
  4. Release the Ctrl key.
Ctrl + A

Select All Cells in a Worksheet using 'Select All'

For those who prefer not to use the keyboard, the Select All button is another option for quickly select all cells in a worksheet.

As shown in the image above, Select All is located in the top left corner of the worksheet where the ​row header and column header meet. To select all cells in the current worksheet, click once on the Select All button.

Select All Cells in a Table

Screenshot of Excel showing how to select all cells in a table

Selecting Parts of a Table and Worksheet

Depending on the way the data in a worksheet is laid out formatted, using the shortcut keys above will select different amounts of data. If the active cell highlight is located within a contiguous range of data:

  • Press Ctrl + A once – Excel selects all the cells containing data in the range.

If the data range has been formatted as a table and has a heading row contains drop-down menus:

  • Press Ctrl + A a second time – Excel selects the heading row.

The selected area can then be extended to include all cells in a worksheet.

  • Press Ctrl + A a third time – Excel selects the entire worksheet.

Select Multiple Worksheets

Screenshot of Excel showing multiple worksheets

Move Between Multiple Worksheets

Not only is it possible to move between sheets in a workbook using a keyboard shortcut, but you can also select multiple adjacent sheets with a keyboard shortcut as well. Simply add the Shift key to the key combinations above.

To select pages to the left:

Ctrl + Shift + PgUp

To select pages to the right:

Ctrl + Shift + PgDn

Selecting Multiple Sheets

Using the mouse along with keyboard keys has one advantage over using just the keyboard — it allows you to select non-adjacent sheets as shown in the image above as well as adjacent ones.

Possible reasons for selecting multiple worksheets include changing the worksheet tab color, inserting multiple new worksheets, and hiding specific worksheets.

Selecting Multiple Adjacent Sheets

  1. Click on one sheet tab to select it.
  2. Press and hold the Shift key on the keyboard.
  3. Click on additional adjacent sheet tabs to highlight them.

Selecting Multiple Non-Adjacent Sheets

  1. Click one sheet tab to select it.
  2. Press and hold the Ctrl key on the keyboard.
  3. Click on additional sheet tabs to highlight them.