Microsoft Excel Range Selection Techniques

Microsoft Excel Range Selection Techniques.

This article describes various Microsoft Excel Range Selection techniques and shows different methods for selecting one or more ranges in an Excel worksheet.


Many Excel features require the user to pre-select a range, possibly of many cells in size. An obvious method is to click and drag over the required range, but this is not always a convenient method to use. A useful alternative is to use the SHIFT key. For this, select the top-left cell of the desired range (cell B4 in the example below) keep SHIFT pressed then,without clicking and dragging, select the bottom-right cell (G16 in the example below). All cells between, together with the top-left and bottom-right will then be selected. This will also work when combined with any other method that moves the cellpointer, for example pressing CRTL-END to move to the bottom-right corner of a worksheet.

Microsoft Excel Range Selection

CRTL key

The CRTL key can be used to pre-select two or more non-adjacent ranges; useful if, for example, the same set of formats are to be applied to a number of separate ranges. Rather than formatting the ranges one by one, they can all be done in a single operation.
Select the first range using any method. Then, keeping CRTL pressed, select as many other ranges as required. When these are selected, release the CRTL key and select the desired changes to be applied to the selected cells.

GoTo Dialogue box

Pressing F5 displays the GoTo dialogue box:

Microsoft Excel Range Selection GoTo Dialogue Box

Although a primary use for this is to select a specified cell, it can also be used to select multi-cell ranges. Click the “Special” button to display options:

Microsoft Excel Range Selection GoTo Special

For example, to select an entire table, click into any cell in the table, then choose Current Region from the selection above. Excel then scans the surrounding cells for the boundaries of the table and selects accordingly. Further options from the Special list include selecting all cells that contain formulae, or are conditionally formatted or have data validation applied.

Entire column(s), row(s) or worksheet

One or more entire rows or columns may be selected by simply clicking the row number or column letter. This may be combined with the CRTL or SHIFT keys to select non-adjacent or adjacent rows or columns. To select the entire worksheet, click the Select All button in the top left of the worksheet:

Microsoft Excel Select Entire Worksheet

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Microsoft Excel Range Selection Links

Microsoft Excel Ranges

John Pascall
10 August 2016