10 Keyboard Shortcuts for Working with Rows and Columns in Microsoft Excel

Are you looking for a faster way to work with rows and columns in Microsoft Excel?

This post is going to show you all the time-saving keyboard shortcuts you can use when working with rows and columns in Excel.

Rows and columns are the building blocks for every Microsoft Excel worksheet. They provide a structure for your data and make it easy to enter, sort, and manipulate information.

Keyboard shortcuts can save you a lot of time when working with rows and columns in Excel. They help you select, insert, delete, hide, unhide, or resize your rows or columns.

Learn these keyboard shortcuts for working with rows and columns and you’ll be able to work more efficiently in no time!

More Keyboard Shortcuts:

Select the Entire Row or Column with a Keyboard Shortcut

One of the most common tasks that people use Excel for is organizing data into rows and columns.

This can be helpful for keeping track of information or for performing calculations.

In order to quickly select rows or columns in Microsoft Excel, you can use keyboard shortcuts!

Select the Entire Row


Shift + Spacebar

Selects the entire row or rows that contain the active cell or active range.


When you select a cell you can then press Shift + Spacebar to select the entire row.

If you have a range selected then the same keyboard shortcut will work to select the entire row for each cell in your range.

This is a quick way to select multiple rows at once. Note, that this will only work for a continuous range of cells.

Select the Entire Column


Ctrl + Spacebar

Selects the entire column or columns that contain the active cell or active range.


When you select a cell you can then press Ctrl + Spacebar to select the entire column.

If you have a range selected then the same keyboard shortcut will work to select the entire column for each cell in your range.

This is a quick way to select multiple columns at once. Note, that this will only work for a continuous range of cells.

Insert a Row or Column with a Keyboard Shortcut

When you’re working with data in rows or columns you will certainly need to add new data.

The good news is that there is a keyboard shortcut that can save you a lot of time when you need to insert new rows or columns.


Ctrl + +

Opens the Insert menu to insert rows or columns based on the selected range.

Only works with + in number keypad.


Ctrl + Shift + +

Opens the Insert menu to insert rows or columns based on the selected range.

Only works with the + in the top row of numbers above the letter keys.


Choose Entire row from the Insert menu to insert a new row, or choose Entire column to insert a new column.

Whether you need to insert rows or columns, the keyboard shortcut is the same as it will open the Insert menu where you can choose what action you need.

You don’t need to use your mouse inside the menu either. You can use the accelerator keys to select your options. These are indicated with the underlined letter in the options.

  • Press r while inside the Insert menu to select the Entire row option.
  • Press c while inside the Insert menu to select the Entire column option.

You can press Enter to confirm the selection or Esc to cancel.

Note: This keyboard shortcut can be confusing since there are two plus keys + you can use. Be aware which you are using and use the correct keyboard shortcut accordingly!

Insert Rows or Columns with a Mouse & Keyboard Shortcut

There is a really handy mouse and keyboard shortcut combination that allows you to insert multiple rows or columns.


Shift + Left Click

Select a row or column then hold Shift and left click and drag the fill handle to insert rows or columns.


Select the entire row just above where you want to insert the new rows. You will notice the fill handle is conveniently located on the left side of the selected range instead of the right side like usual.

When you hover the mouse cursor over the fill handle it will turn into a small black plus. When you hold the Shift key this cursor will change into a double line and arrows icon. This indicates you can insert rows!

Left click and drag down to insert rows. The green border will indicate where the new rows will be placed as you click and drag. When you release the left click, the rows are inserted.

The exact same shortcut works for inserting columns as well. Select a column to the left of the location where you want to insert new columns, hold the Shift key and left click and drag the fill handle.

Delete a Row or Column with a Keyboard Shortcut

You may need to quickly delete rows or columns from your data and this is also possible with a keyboard shortcut.


Ctrl + -

Delete rows or columns based on the selected range.


Select a range that includes the rows or columns which you want to delete then press Ctrl + – on your keyboard.

This will open the Delete menu where you can then choose to delete the Entire row or the Entire column.

The Delete menu also includes accelerator keys so you can select your option from the keyboard.

  • Press r while inside the Insert menu to select the Entire row option.
  • Press c while inside the Insert menu to select the Entire column option.

Then press Enter to confirm the deletion or press Esc to cancel.

Autofit Column Width with a Keyboard Shortcut

When your columns aren’t wide enough it will be hard to read your data. Text of numbers in the cells might appear cut off because it’s too long to fit in the current column width.

You might also have data on multiple lines within a cell and this won’t show in the default row height.

Adjusting the rows and columns to the proper size manually would be a pain!

Thankfully, there are shortcuts to autofit the row height and column widths to your data!

Autofit Row Height or Column Width with the Mouse

Autofit can be done quickly using the mouse.

Select the rows or columns which you would like to autofit then move the cursor between the row headings or column headings. The cursor will change to a bar with two arrows and you can double left-click to autofit.

Autofit Row Height with a Keyboard Shortcut

Autofit row height is a command that can be found in the ribbon. It’s in the Home tab under Format.

But you can access this command with two Alt hotkey shortcuts. These shortcuts allow you to access any command in the ribbon via the keyboard.

When you press the Alt key, the remaining keys needed to navigate to your desired command will be shown on the ribbon.


Alt + O, R, A

Autofit the row height for the selected rows.

This is a legacy keyboard shortcut from before the ribbon user interface.


Alt + H, O, A

Autofit the row height for the selected rows.

This is the Alt hotkey shortcut for the ribbon commands.


Select the rows in which you want to autofit the height and press Alt + O, R, A. This will automatically adjust the height to fit the cell contents.

Autofit Column Width with a Keyboard Shortcut

Autofit column width can also be found in the ribbon in the Home tab under Format. And there is both a legacy and modern hotkey shortcut that can be used.


Alt + O, R, A

Autofit the column width for the selected columns.

This is a legacy keyboard shortcut from before the ribbon user interface.


Alt + H, O, I

Autofit the column width for the selected columns.

This is the Alt hotkey shortcut for the ribbon commands.


Select the rows in which you want to autofit the height and press Alt + O, R, A. This will automatically adjust the height to fit the cell contents.

Manually Adjust Row Height or Column Width with a Keyboard Shortcut

Autofit is for sure a great feature to know, but there will be occasions where you want to manually set the height or width.

These actions are also found in the Format menu in the Home tab and can be achieved with the Alt hotkey shortcuts.

Manually Adjust Row Height with a Keyboard Shortcut

Use these keyboard shortcuts to manually set row height.


Alt + O, R, E

Open the Row Height menu and allows you to set the height manually. This is the legacy hotkey shortcut from Excel 2003.


Alt + H, O, H

Open the Row Height menu and allows you to set the height manually. This is the current ribbon hotkey shortcut.


Select the rows you want to adjust and press either Alt + O, R, E or Alt + H, O, H on your keyboard and it will open the Row Height menu.

You can then input a new value and press Enter or press the OK button to change the height for all selected rows.

Manually Adjust Column Width with a Keyboard Shortcut

You can use these keyboard shortcuts to manually set column width.


Alt + O, C, W

Open the Column Width menu and allows you to set the width manually. This is the legacy hotkey shortcut.


Alt + H, O, W

Open the Column Width menu and allows you to set the width manually. This is the current ribbon shortcut.


Select the columns you want to adjust and press either Alt + O, C, W or Alt + H, O, W on your keyboard and it will open the Column Height menu. You can then input a new value and press Enter to change the height for all selected rows.

Hide Row or Column with a Keyboard Shortcut

There are times when you may want to hide certain rows or columns in order to better focus on the data that is relevant.

Hiding the unused rows and columns can make the spreadsheet less cluttered and easier to navigate.

Additionally, hiding rows and columns can be useful for protecting data that you do not want others to see. Once hidden, the data will be invisible to anyone viewing the spreadsheet.

It can still be accessed by those who know where to look for it. As such, hiding data should not be used as a security measure.

Whatever your reasons for hiding rows and columns, this action is possible with the following keyboard shortcuts.


Ctrl + 0

Hide the columns in the selected range.


Ctrl + 9

Hide the rows in the selected range.


Select any range of cells and press Ctrl + 9 to hide the selected rows, or select any range of cells and press Ctrl + 0 to hide the selected columns.

This will result in the rows or columns appearing absent in the row or column headings. A small double line marking will appear to note the missing rows and columns.

Note: You can use these keyboard shortcuts on non-continuous ranges. Hold Ctrl while making your selections to highlight a non-continuous set of cells.

Unhide Row or Column with a Keyboard Shortcut

If you have hidden rows and columns in your worksheets, you’re eventually going to want to unhide them.

This is possible to perform through a keyboard combination. The following keyboard shortcuts can be used to unhide hidden rows and columns.


Ctrl + Shift + 0

Unhide the columns in the selected range.


Ctrl + Shift + 9

Unhide the rows in the selected range.


Select a range that includes the hidden rows and press Ctrl + Shift + 9 to unhide rows.

Select a range that includes the hidden columns and press Ctrl + Shift + 0 to unhide columns.

Both these shortcuts work on non-continuous hidden rows or columns as well. You just need to make sure your selection covers all the hidden rows or columns.

This means you can easily unhide all rows or columns in a sheet by pressing Ctrl + A to select the entire sheet and then using either shortcut to unhide rows or columns.

Group or Ungroup Rows or Columns with a Keyboard Shortcut

When working with data in Excel, you may find it helpful to group rows or columns together.

This will allow you to quickly expand and collapse the group using a toggle. This is essentially a more convenient way to hide and unhide rows and columns.

There are shortcuts to group and ungroup rows or columns.


Alt + Shift + Right

Group rows or columns in the selected range.


Alt + Shift + Left

Ungroup rows or columns in the selected range.


Select a range that includes the rows or columns you want to group together and press Alt + Shift + Right.

This will open the Group menu and you can choose to group Rows or Columns then press the OK button to add the grouping.

This will create a toggle to the left of the row headings or above the column headings that will allow you to expand or collapse the rows or columns.

Select all the grouped rows or columns and press Alt + Shift + Left to ungroup them.

This will open the Ungroup menu and you can choose to remove the grouping from the Rows or Columns. Press the OK button to remove the group.

Paste Only Column Width

Have you ever spent any time manually setting column width and wanted to replicate the exact width to other columns?

You can easily do this with the Paste Special commands, and you can access the Paste Special options with a keyboard shortcut.


Ctrl + Alt + V, W

Open the Paste Special menu and select Column widths as the paste option.


Select a cell inside the column from which you want to copy the width. Note, you don’t need to select the entire column, only selecting a cell will work just the same.

Press Ctrl + C to copy the cell.

Then select a cell in the column in which you want to paste the width. Press Ctrl + Alt + V to open the Paste Special menu. Now press W to select the Column widths paste option and press the OK button.

The column width will update, but nothing else will change!

Conclusions

Working with rows and columns in your spreadsheet is essential and using keyboard shortcuts will help you save time.

These keyboard shortcuts will help you select, insert, delete, hide, unhide, group, and ungroup the rows or columns in your workbooks.

There are even shortcuts for adjusting height and width to perfectly fit your data.

Do you use any of these great time-saving shortcuts? Do you know any shortcuts I forgot to mention? Let me know in the comments below!

About the Author

John MacDougall

John MacDougall

John is a Microsoft MVP and qualified actuary with over 15 years of experience. He has worked in a variety of industries, including insurance, ad tech, and most recently Power Platform consulting. He is a keen problem solver and has a passion for using technology to make businesses more efficient.

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