Excel: By-pass the menu and ribbon structures to insert columns and rows

There's more than one way to insert a column or row. If you have to or want to bypass the menu or ribbon, try one of these simple insertion methods.

Inserting a column or row into an Excel sheet is easy. Simply select a column or row and choose the appropriate command from the Insert menu. In 2007 and 2010, click the Home tab and choose an item from the Insert dropdown (in the Cells group). If you prefer, there are a couple of ways to do the same thing, without using the menu and ribbon structures.

Perhaps the easiest way to insert a column or row is to use the shortcut menu. Right-click a selected column or row and choose Insert from the resulting context menu. Excel will insert a column, pushing everything to the right by one column. When inserting a new row, Excel will shift everything down by one row.

There's a second trick that you can rely on if by some chance someone has disabled the shortcut menus—use the fill handle. It's a bit tricky until you get the hang of it. First, select a column or row. Then, hold down the [Shift] key and drag the fill handle one column to the right (or left). If inserting a row, drag the fill handle up or down.

When Excel displays a gray border around the adjacent column or row, you can release the keys and Excel will insert a column or row.

Unlike the other insertion methods, this method lets you insert a column to the left or a row above the selection. It's a bit counter-intuitive, but it works.


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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