Organizing Excel tables is not always easy, especially when the tables are large. But if you know how to move columns in Excel more efficiently, you can reorganize even large spreadsheets without messing up all the data and calculations inside them.
In this article, you will learn three ways to move columns in Excel and situations in which each is best used:
- Copying and pasting columns
- Using copy and pasting shortcuts
- Using the Shift key and mouse
Each of these methods will show you how to use them to move columns without overwriting other columns or losing data in the spreadsheet.
Transferring columns in Excel – the standard way
When most people want to move a column from one position to another, they use the approach that most people are aware of. This approach requires additional steps than the others described in this article. However, it is important to show the process so that you can see how much time can be saved by using one of the other approaches.
1. Right-click the heading of the column where you want to place the column and select Insert. This will create an empty column where you can place the column you want to move.
2. Select all cells from the column you want to copy. Select only the cells, not the entire column. Right-click the selected cells and choose Cut.
3. Right-click the first cell in the blank column that you created and select Paste. Or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-V to paste data into an empty column.
4. The original column will now be blank. Select the entire column, right-click the header and choose Delete.
Now the original column has been removed and the data from the column is placed where you wanted.
Move columns with copy and insert
A faster approach to moving columns in Excel is to use the Insert function in Excel. This approach skips two steps – creating an empty column and deleting the moved column.
1. Select the top of the first column to select the entire column. Right-click and select Cut. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl + C to cut the column.
2. Select the column to the right of where you want to move the column. Right-click the top of the column and select Paste Cut Cells. Instead, you can choose Ctrl and the plus sign (+) on your keyboard. The cut cells will also be inserted to the left of the selected column.
After these two steps, the clipping column will be inserted at the location of your choice.
It’s really that simple.
You can also move multiple columns in Excel by following the same steps. You just need to select a few columns before choosing Cut. When you paste the cut cells, the two previously cut columns are inserted.
The only limitation is that the columns used must be located next to each other.
Move columns with Shift and mouse
Another way to move columns in Excel is to use the Shift key on your keyboard and mouse.
This approach requires you to create
- Insert an empty column where you want to move the column in the spreadsheet. Use the same procedure as in the first section of this article. Right-click the column and choose Paste.
- Select the entire column (or multiple columns) that you want to copy. Move the mouse cursor to the left or right border of the column until the mouse pointer changes to a pointer with the target character.
3. Left-click and hold down and drag the column to the empty column that you created. When you release your mouse, Excel will ask you if you want to replace the column’s contents. Since you have made the column blank, you can simply click OK.
This will place your column where it is empty.
If you want to skip the step of creating an empty column, just right click to drag the column instead of using the left mouse button. Drag the column in the same way, but drop it on the column where you want to insert the column on the left. When you release, you will see several options for how to insert the column into the slot.
If you selected a column to the right of where you want to place the moved column, select Shift Right and Move to insert the column and shift the remaining columns to the right.
Using this approach (right-clicking) reduces the number of steps required to simply select a column, right-click and drag the column wherever you want. This is by far the easiest way to move columns in Excel.
Which method is right for you?
Different people prefer to use a keyboard or mouse to work in Excel. No approach is necessarily better than the next. It really comes down to which of the above procedures is best for your typical Excel use.
Moving columns in Excel doesn’t have to be difficult, nor does it have to mess up your entire worksheet. Just follow the steps above carefully and you can move entire columns quickly and easily.
All of these methods also work with moving rows in Excel