A quick way to select an Excel data range

Here's a quick method, and the equivalent keyboard shortcut, for selecting an entire data range.

Working with a complete data set is a common task in Excel. You might want to move the data, apply a filter or common format, or convert the data to a table. There are many reasons for selecting a data range, but doing so might require jumping through a few selection hoops, especially if you're working with a large range that spans several screens. Fortunately, there's a quick and easy way to select an entire data range.

To select a data range, use the Go To feature as follows:

  1. Click any cell in the data range. For instance, to select the data range A1:C9 (shown below) you could select any cell from A1 to C9.
  2. Press [F5].
  3. In the Go To dialog, click the Special button in the bottom-left corner.
  4. In the resulting dialog, click the Current Region option.
  5. Click OK, and Excel will select the current data range (the current region).

In this context, current region means contiguous data, but the block of contiguous data can contain blanks. For instance, using the above data range, if there's data in cell D10 and E7, this feature will include columns D and E and row 10 in the selection. Blank cells in the data range won't matter.

This feature makes selecting a data range easy, but there's a keyboard shortcut that will do the same thing: [Ctrl]+[Shift]+8. If you do this often, it's worth committing that keyboard shortcut to memory.


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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