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Move Rows and Columns in Excel

Move-Rows-and-Columns-in-Excel

Often, as an Excel spreadsheet develops and grows, there comes a time when you will need to reorganize and reorder the information contained in the spreadsheet.

To do this, you need to be able to move rows and columns, as well as individual cells or ranges of cells, around in the worksheet.

As always, there is more than one way to achieve this, and which method is best depends on personal preference.

Some users like to use the mouse, while others, the keyboard.

In our example spreadsheet, we’ll be taking a look at how to move both rows and columns.

We’ll also be taking a look at how to move cells across rows and columns.

One point to consider when moving content, be it a cell, column, or row, is if it will be inserted into the new position, or if it will overwrite any existing content.

Moving Cells in Excel

Whether moving a single cell or a group of cells, the principle is the same.

Get the cell or range of cells to be moved, select the destination cell, and perform the move.

When selecting a range of cells to be moved, they can all be in the same row, all down the same column, or span across both rows and columns.

However, they must be contiguous.

Cut and paste cells from one row to another

In the above example, a range of cells is cut from its origin row position, and pasted to a new, destination row position, keeping the cells within the same column or columns.

Once moved, the origin cells will be cleared, and any content in the destination cells will be overwritten.

Begin by selecting a single cell or a range of cells.

Right mouse click anywhere inside the selected cells to bring up the context menu, and choose Cut.

Next, click the destination cell, right mouse click inside it and choose the Paste icon to move the cells to the new position.

If using the keyboard, to select a range of cells, use the keyboard arrow keys while holding down the Shift key, and the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-X to cut the cells.

Then, move to the destination cell, and use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-V to paste the cells.

Cut and insert cells from one row to another

This time, the same range of cells is selected and moved to exactly the same position as before, however, the cells are inserted, which causes any cells between the origin and destination cells to be shifted along, thus leaving no blank cells, and without overwriting any existing content.

Again, select a single cell or a range of cells, right mouse click anywhere inside the selected cells and choose Cut from the context menu.

Move to the destination cell, right mouse click and from the context menu choose Insert Cut Cells to move the cells to the new position.

When using the keyboard, the same keyboard shortcut Ctrl-X is used to cut the selected cells.

After moving to the destination cell, in order to insert rather than paste the cut contents, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-“+”.

Cut and paste cells from one column to another

Moving cells from one column to another, be it cut and paste or cut and insert, follows the same routine as when moving cells from one row to another.

While it does not really make a lot of sense to do this type of move with the data in this specific sheet, it is demonstrated here as an example to show how it is done.

Just as when moving cells from one row to another using the cut and paste method, so too with columns, the source cells are cleared and the destination content is overwritten after the move.

The only difference is that we are now moving cells from one column to another, but within the same row or rows.

With the mouse, select the range of cells to be moved.

Right mouse click inside the selected cells and from the context menu choose Cut.

Right mouse click inside the destination cell and choose the Paste icon.

To do this with the keyboard, exactly the same sequence of keystrokes is performed as when moving cells from one row to another.

Select the cells, press Ctrl-X to cut them, move to the destination cell position in another column and press Ctrl-V to paste.

Cut and insert cells from one column to another

With the mouse, select the cells, right mouse click inside the selected cells to bring up the context menu and choose Cut.

Move to the destination cell, right mouse click inside the cell and choose Insert Cut Cells.

With the keyboard, select the cells and press Ctrl-X to cut them.

Move to the desired cell where the cut cells will be inserted and press Ctrl-Shift-“+”.

When moving cells from one column to another by inserting them, any intervening cells are shifted along so that no content is overwritten.

Cut and paste cells from one column and row to another column and row

Finally, we’ll move a range of cells to both a different column and row.

This is not so common and may rarely be required, if at all, but Excel is nonetheless capable of performing such a move.

Again, as with moving to a different row or to a different column, after moving the selected cells, the source cells are cleared and the destination cells are overwritten.

Whether performing this action with a mouse or the keyboard, the procedure is exactly the same as before, with the difference that the destination cells can lie outside of both the columns and rows of the origin cells.

Cut and insert cells from one column and row to another column and row

This type of cut and insert across both rows and columns is highly unusual, and unlike the previous cases of cut and insert, it does clear the source cells since they are moved to an entirely different column and row.

However, no content is overwritten, since cells are shifted either to the right or down, to make space for the cut cells.

It is very unlikely that this type of move will be used often.

While the above clip showed the mouse being used to bring up the context menu with a right click, keyboard shortcuts could just as easily have been used.

Move and select cells with the up, down, left and right arrow keys while holding down the Shift key, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-X to cut any selected cells, and Ctrl-Shift-“+” to insert them.

The following are yet another way to move cells with the mouse but without the use of context menus, although when doing a move and insert, it is in combination with the Shift key on the keyboard.

Here too, we have the ability to both overwrite or insert content to a new row, column, or row and column.

Cut and paste cells, mouse only without context menus

After selecting the cell or cells to be moved, hover the mouse pointer over the thicker bounding box around the selected cells, until it turns into the mouse move pointer .

Then, click and hold the left mouse button while moving the mouse around.

The mouse pointer will change to the standard mouse arrow pointer, and while moving the mouse, a second bounding box will appear (the same size as the bounding box around the origin cells), to indicate the potentially new destination.

Move the mouse around on the sheet to the new position, so that the bounding box covers the desired range of cells where the contents are to be pasted.

Now release the left mouse button. If the destination cells have any existing content, a dialog box will pop up asking if you want to replace that content.

Click OK to proceed.

The origin cells will have been cleared, and their contents will have overwritten the contents of the cells in the destination position.

Cut and Insert cells, without context menus

To insert cells, start by selecting the cells and hovering the mouse pointer over the bounding box until it turns into the mouse move pointer .

Press and hold down the Shift key on the keyboard and also click and hold down the left mouse button.

When you now move the mouse around the sheet, depending on whether the mouse pointer is at a left or right cell border, or top or bottom cell border, the cell border will change to a bold capital “I” shape, or  bold capital “H” shape respectively, to indicate where the cell contents will be inserted.

Once you have selected the position, first release the left mouse button, then the Shift key.

Depending on the new position, whether it be in a different row, different column, or different row and column from the origin cells, all intervening cells will be shifted along so that nothing is overwritten.

Moving Rows in Excel

Just as with moving cells, moving entire rows or columns follow a similar procedure.

You can use the mouse and right click to bring up the context menu, use the keyboard shortcuts, or use the mouse without context menus, to move rows or columns.

While a single row is moved in these examples, the principle is the same for multiple, contiguous rows.

Cut and paste rows

With the mouse, select the row (or rows) to be moved. Right mouse click inside the selected row to bring up the context menu, and choose Cut.

Now choose the destination row, right mouse click inside the row to bring up the context menu and choose the Paste icon.

The origin row contents will have been moved to the new row and the origin row will be left blank.

To do this with the keyboard, move to any cell along the desired row, and to select the entire row, press Shift-Space.

Then, press Ctrl-X to cut the row.

Move to the destination row and again press Shift-Space to select it, then Ctrl-V to paste in the origin row contents.

Cut and insert rows

With the mouse, select the row (or rows) to be moved.

Right mouse click inside the selected row to bring up the context menu, and choose Cut.

Now choose the destination row, right mouse click inside the row to bring up the context menu and choose Insert cut cells.

The origin row contents will have been moved to the new row and intervening rows will have been shifted along so that nothing is overwritten and no rows are left blank.

To do this with the keyboard, move to any cell along the desired row, and to select the entire row, press Shift-Space.

Then, press Ctrl-X to cut the row.

Move to the destination row and again press Shift-Space to select it, then Ctrl-Shift-“+” to insert in the origin row contents.

Cut and paste rows, mouse only without context menus

This method is quite fast, using only the mouse and without context menus.

Begin by selecting the row to be moved.

Then hover the mouse pointer over the bounding box around the selected row until it turns into the mouse move pointer . Click and hold the left mouse button down.

Now move the mouse anywhere above or below the origin row.

The mouse pointer will change to the standard mouse arrow pointer, and a second bounding box will appear to indicate the potentially new destination row.

Move to the desired destination row and release the left mouse button.

If the destination row has any existing content, a dialog box will pop up asking if you want to replace that content.

Click OK to proceed.

The origin row cells will have been cleared and their contents will have overwritten the contents of the cells in the destination row.

Cut and Insert rows, without context menus

This method is also done with the mouse and without context menus, but does require the use of the Shift key.

Begin by selecting the row to be moved.

Then hover the mouse pointer over the bounding box around the selected row until it turns into the mouse move pointer .

Click and hold down the left mouse button and press and hold down the Shift key on the keyboard while moving the mouse above or below the origin row.

The mouse pointer will change to the standard mouse arrow pointer, and a thick dark border will appear between rows as the mouse is moved, to indicate where the origin row contents will be inserted.

Move to the destination row and first release the left mouse button, then the Shift key.

The contents of the origin row will be inserted where the thick dark border was positioned, shifting any intervening rows towards the origin row.

Moving Columns in Excel

As with rows, while a single column is moved in the following examples, the principle is the same for multiple, contiguous columns.

Cut and paste columns

With the mouse, select the column (or columns) to be moved.

Right mouse click inside the selected columns to bring up the context menu, and choose Cut.

Now choose the destination column, right mouse click inside the column to bring up the context menu and choose the Paste icon.

The origin column contents will have overwritten the destination column and the origin column will be cleared.

To do this with the keyboard, move to any cell along the desired origin column, and to select the entire column, press Ctrl-Space. Then, press Ctrl-X to cut the column.

Move to the destination column and press Ctrl-Space to select it, then Ctrl-V to overwrite with the origin column contents.

Cut and insert columns

With the mouse, select the column (or columns) to be moved.

Right mouse click to bring up the context menu and choose Cut.

Now choose the destination column, right mouse click inside the column to bring up the context menu and choose Insert cut cells.

The origin column contents will have been moved to the new column and intervening rows will have been shifted along so that nothing is overwritten and no rows are left blank.

To do this with the keyboard, move to any cell along the desired column, and to select the entire column, press Ctrl-Space.

Then, press Ctrl-X to cut the column. Move to the destination column and again press Ctrl-Space to select it, then Ctrl-Shift-“+” to insert in the origin column contents.

As with all cases when inserting content, nothing is overwritten.

Cut and paste columns, mouse only without context menus

Begin by selecting the column to be moved.

Then hover the mouse pointer over the bounding box around the selected column until it turns into the mouse move pointer .

Click and hold the left mouse button while moving the mouse left or right of the origin column.

The mouse pointer will change to the standard mouse arrow pointer, and a second bounding box will appear to indicate the potentially new destination column.

Move to the desired destination column and release the left mouse button.

If the destination column has any existing content, a dialog box will pop up asking if you want to replace that content.

Click OK to proceed.

The origin column cells will have been cleared and their contents will have overwritten the contents of the cells in the destination column.

Cut and Insert columns, without context menus

Begin by selecting the column to be moved. Then hover the mouse pointer over the bounding box around the selected column until it turns into the mouse move pointer .

Click and hold down the left mouse button and press and hold down the Shift key on the keyboard while moving the mouse left or right of the origin column.

The mouse pointer will change to the standard mouse arrow pointer, and a thick dark border will appear between columns as the mouse is moved along, to indicate where the origin column contents will be inserted.

Move to the desired destination column and first release the left mouse button, then the Shift key.

The contents of the origin column will be inserted where the thick dark border was positioned, shifting any intervening columns towards the origin column.

As we’ve seen, moving rows and columns in Excel provides us with some considerations to keep in mind.

Is the move going to be a cut and paste, or cut and insert? We’ve also seen how to move individual cells or a range of cells.

And finally, Excel offers the choice of using the mouse with context menus, keyboard shortcuts, or mouse without context menus (with a little help from the keyboard).

Use whichever method works best for you.

Handy Keyboard Shortcuts

Copy – Ctrl-C
Cut – Ctrl-X
Paste – Ctrl-V
Insert – Ctrl-Shift-“+”
Select entire row – Shift-Space
Select entire column – Ctrl-Space