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5 Keyboard Shortcuts for Rows and Columns in Excel

Bottom line: Learn some of my favorite keyboard shortcuts when working with rows and columns in Excel.

Skill level: Easy

Keyboard Shortcuts for Rows and Columns in Excel

Whether you are creating a simple list of names or building a complex financial model, you probably make a lot of changes to the rows and columns in the spreadsheet.  Tasks like adding/deleting rows, adjusting column widths, and creating outline groups are very common when working with the grid.

This post contains some of my favorite shortcuts that will save you time every day.

#1 –  Select Entire Row or Column

Shift+Space is the keyboard shortcut to select an entire row.

Ctrl+Space is the keyboard shortcut to select an entire column.

Select Entire Row or Column in Excel Keyboard Shortcuts

The keyboard shortcuts by themselves don't do much.  However, they are the starting point for performing a lot of other actions where you first need to select the entire row or column.  This includes tasks like deleting rows, grouping columns, etc.

These shortcuts also work for selecting the entire row or column inside an Excel Table.

Keyboard Shortcut to Select Rows or Columns in Excel Table

When you press the Shift+Space shortcut the first time it will select the entire row within the Table.  Press Shift+Space a second time and it will select the entire row in the worksheet.

The same works for columns.  Ctrl+Space will select the column of data in the Table.  Pressing the keyboard shortcut a second time will include the column header of the Table in the selection.  Pressing Ctrl+Space a third time will select the entire column in the worksheet.

You can select multiple rows or columns by holding Shift and pressing the Arrow Keys multiple times.

Select Multiple Columns with Shift Plus Arrow Keys

#2 – Insert or Delete Rows or Columns

There are a few ways to quickly delete rows and columns in Excel.

If you have the rows or columns selected, then the following keyboard shortcuts will quickly add or delete all selected rows or columns.

Ctrl++ (plus character) is the keyboard shortcut to insert rows or columns.  If you are using a laptop keyboard you can press Ctrl+Shift+= (equal sign).

Insert Entire Row in Excel

Ctrl+- (minus character) is the keyboard shortcut to delete rows or columns.

Delete Selected Column in Excel

So for the above shortcuts to work you will first need to select the entire row or column, which can be done with the Shift+Space or Ctrl+Space shortcuts explained in #1.

If you do not have the entire row or column selected then you will be presented with the Insert or Delete Menus after pressing Ctrl++ or Ctrl+-.

Insert or Delete Menu Appears When Entire Row or Column is Not Selected

You can then press the up or down arrow keys to make your selection from the menu and hit Enter.  For me it is easier to first select the entire row or column, then press Ctrl++ or Ctrl+-.

So, the entire keyboard shortcut to delete a column would be Ctrl+Space, Ctrl+-.  You could also use the keyboard shortcut Alt+H+D+C to delete columns and Alt+H+D+R to delete rows.  There are lots of ways to do a simple task… 🙂

#3 – AutoFit Column Width

There are also a lot of different ways to AutoFit column widths.  AutoFit means that the width of the column will be adjusted to fit the contents of the cell.

You can use the mouse and double-click when you hover the cursor between columns when you see the resize column cursor.

Double-Click Resize Column Cursor to Autofit Column

The problem with this is that you might just want to resize the column for the date in cell A4, instead of the big long title in cell A1.  To accomplish this you can use the AutoFit Column Width button.  It is located on the Home tab of the Ribbon in the Format menu.

AutoFit Column Width Button in Excel

The AutoFit Column Width button bases the width of the column on the cells you have selected.  In the image above I have cell A4 selected.  So the column width will be adjusted to fit the contents of A4, as shown in the results below.

AutoFit Column Width Button Resizes Column Based on Selected Cell Contents

Alt,H,O,I is the keyboard shortcut for the AutoFit Column Width button.  This is one I use a lot to get my reports looking shiny. 🙂

Alt,H,O,A is the keyboard shortcut to AutoFit Row Height.  It doesn't work exactly the same as column width, and will only adjust the row height to the tallest cell in the entire row.

#3.5 – Manually Adjust Row or Column Width

The column width or row height windows can be opened with keyboard shortcuts as well.

Alt,O,R,E is the keyboard shortcut to open the Row Height window.

Alt,O,C,W is the keyboard shortcut to open the Column Width window.

Excel Keyboard Shortcuts for Row Height and Column Width

The row height or column width will be applied to the rows or columns of all the cells that are currently selected.

These are old shortcuts from Excel 2003, but they still work in the modern versions of Excel.

#4 – Hide or Unhide Rows or Columns

There are several dedicated keyboard shortcuts to hide and unhide rows and columns.

  • Ctrl+9 to Hide Rows
  • Ctrl+0 (zero) to Hide Columns
  • Ctrl+Shift+( to Unhide Rows
  • Ctrl+Shift+) to Unhide Columns – If this doesn't work for you try Alt,O,C,U (old Excel 2003 shortcut that still works).  You can also modify a Windows setting to prevent the conflict with this shortcut.  See the comment from Pablo Baez on Oct 5, 2015 below for further instructions.  Thanks Pablo! 🙂

The buttons are also located on the Format menu on the Home tab of the Ribbon.  You can hover over any of the items in the menu and the keyboard shortcut will display in the screentip (see screenshot below).

Keyboard Shortcuts to Hide and Unhide Rows and Columns in Excel

The trick with getting these shortcuts to work is to have the proper cells selected first.

To hide rows or columns you just need to select cells in the rows or columns you want to hide, then press the Ctrl+9 or Ctrl+Shift+( shortcut.

To unhide rows or columns you first need to select the cells that surround the rows or columns you want to unhide.  In the screenshot below I want to unhide rows 3 & 4.  I first select cell B2:B5, cells that surround or cover the hidden rows, then press Ctrl+Shift+( to unhide the rows.

Select Cells That Surround Hidden Rows or Columns Before Unhiding

The same technique works to unhide columns.

#5 – Group or Ungroup Rows or Columns

Row and Column groupings are a great way to quickly hide and unhide columns and rows.

Shift+Alt+Right Arrow is the shortcut to group rows or columns.

Shift+Alt+Left Arrow is the shortcut to ungroup.

Again, the trick here is to select the entire rows or columns you want to group/ungroup first.  Otherwise you will be presented with the Group or Ungroup menu.

Keyboard Shortcut to Ungroup Rows or Columns in Excel

Alt,A,U,C is the keyboard shortcut to remove all the row and columns groups on the sheet.  This is the same as pressing the Clear Outline button on the Ungroup menu of the Data tab on the Ribbon.

*Bonus funny: At some point when using the group/ungroup shortcuts, you will accidentally press Ctrl+Alt+Right Arrow.  This is a Windows shortcut that orientates the entire screen to the right.  I call it “neck ache view”.  To get it back to normal press Ctrl+Alt+Up Arrow.

If your co-worker or boss accidentally leaves their computer unlocked and you want to play a joke on them, press Ctrl+Alt+Down Arrow.  This will turn their screen upside down.  Don't forget to record a video of their WTF reaction… 🙂

What Are Your Favorites?

There are a ton of keyboard shortcuts for working with rows and columns.  The above are some of my favorites that I use everyday.  What are some of your favorites?  Please leave a comment below.  Thanks! 🙂

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Jon Acampora
 

Welcome to Excel Campus! I am excited you are here. My name is Jon and my goal is to help you learn Excel to save time with your job and advance in your career. I've been an avid Excel user and VBA developer for 10+ years. I am also a Microsoft MVP. I try to learn something new everyday, and want to share this knowledge with you to help you improve your skills. When I'm not looking at spreadsheets, I get outdoors and surf. :) more about me

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 120 comments
Kalum - August 29, 2018

Hi Jon,
Thanks Dear,
I am always using shortcut key when working in the excell work book, so this shortcut key are very useful for me.

Reply
    Zane Mallinson - September 15, 2018

    There are some fascinating points in time on this article however I don’t know if I see all of them heart to heart. There is some validity however I’ll take hold opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we wish more! Added to FeedBurner as nicely

    Reply
    comprar followers - September 30, 2018

    comprar reproducciones

    Reply
lasha - August 21, 2018

Thanks. Really useful.

Reply
Muhammad Saim Riaz - August 9, 2018

Great….. The shortcuts are worth remembering.

Reply
Jegan - March 14, 2018

please share vlookup function in my email., i dont know anything else

Reply
Steve - March 8, 2018

Thanks Jon, most useful. The Ctrl+9 & 0 don’t appear to work in Excel 365, however Ctrl+O, etc works fine.

Reply
    Velks - April 25, 2018

    Nice and useful tips John, Thanks…I too love keyboard shortcuts.

    Hi Steve,

    Below are the steps for higher versions of Windows or Excel set up issues for the same with little changes mentioned already by Pablo for older versions.

    1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
    2. Double-click Language.
    3. Click Advanced Settings
    4. Click Change language bar hot keys under Switching input methods
    5. Click Advanced Key Settings tab, and select Between input languages.
    6. Click Change Key Sequence…
    7. For Switch Keyboard Layout, select Not Assigned.
    8.Click OK to close each dialog box.

    I hope this will solve your issue.

    Thanks
    Velks

    Reply
tasneem - February 23, 2018

hi<
how can i switch two raw (places) by using excel short cut with out using cut and paste.
thanks

Reply
Ma Lae - January 28, 2018

Sir Jon Acampora,

Thanks for your sharing.

Reply
    amit - April 25, 2018

    Hi,
    kindly share the excel short keys in my mail ID

    Reply
Jamil Rehman - January 13, 2018

Thanks Dear for such a informative knowledge.

I usually use short keys to insert or delete row and columns. But i found you by searching how to hide rows and columns with short keys.

Thanks for your sharing.

Reply
Peter - November 30, 2017

Hi Jon,

Is there an Excel shortcut for the vlookup function?

I’ve searched online and cant find anything and then remember you’ve answered a question of mine before, in the above thread.

Thanks

Peter

Reply

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