Use AutoFill: MS Excel

Dennis Faas's picture

After you've built a budget for a single period of time, you often have to repeat the process for several other time periods, say the next month, quarter or year. MS Excel provides the AutoFill feature to copy text, numbers and formulas to adjacent cells. You can also use the feature to create a sequence.

AutoFill saves you the trouble of typing the same text, numbers and formulas repeatedly.

Copy Data

The active cell is surrounded by a bold rectangle, and on the lower-right corner is a small black square called the fill handle.

  1. Select the cell you want to copy.
  2. Place the mouse pointer over the fill handle. It turns into a black cross (rather than the normal fat plus).
  3. Drag across or down adjacent cells.

Using AutoFill you can quickly and easily build a large worksheet by copying text and numbers to adjacent cells. Excel is so smart: when you copy formulas using AutoFill, they automatically adjust to refer to the correct items.

Fill a Series

The AutoFill feature is awesome; it correctly figures out what you want to put in adjacent cells. How it works depends on what you select.

To continue a sequence of dates, times or certain time periods from a single cell:

  1. Select the cell containing the beginning value.
  2. Place the mouse pointer over the fill handle.
  3. Drag across or down adjacent cells.

If you hold down the Ctrl key as you drag the fill handle, numbers increase by 1 and dates and times are copied as is, instead of changed to the next value.

To continue a sequence of numbers, dates or time periods based on the data in two or more adjacent cells:

  1. Type the first few items of the sequence in adjacent cells.
  2. Select the cells.
  3. Drag the fill handle to adjacent cells.

The series extends based on the cells you have selected.

As you drag, the yellow Screen Tip shows the contents of the cells. When you select more than one cell, the sequence continues according to the first few items.

You can also create a custom fill series, such as "high, medium, low" or "strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, and strongly disagree."

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