Microsoft Excel comes with a long list of shortcuts and formulas that help you execute a wide range of operations. Naturally, one might need help from external sources to discover all the tips and tricks that can be applied within the application.
In this article, we will look at three different ways to move a column in a Microsoft Excel worksheet. The following methods apply to Microsoft Excel 2019 and newer versions.
1. Use Drag and Drop to Move a Column in Excel
The “drag and drop” method is a simple yet effective method for moving any row or column. All you need to do is select and drag the desired column and drop it onto the right location while holding the Shift key.
- Navigate your cursor to the header of the column that you want to move and click on it to select the whole column.
- After highlighting the column, move your cursor to the edge of the selected column. You will notice that the cursor changes into a crossbar icon signaling that you are ready to move the column.
- You can now start dragging the column while pressing the left mouse button and the Shift key. Drag your column and leave it when the selected column is in the desired location.
2. Use Cut and Paste to Move Excel Columns
Although more suited for people who want to get work done by using the keyboard only, the cut-paste method can also be used with a mouse and keyboard combination.
- Go to the column header and right-click to reveal the context menu. Then choose the Cut option to initiate the process. If you are using only a keyboard, move the cursor to the column header area and press the “context menu” button on your keyboard to prompt the context menu on the screen. From there, select the Cut option.
The entire column will then be highlighted with dotted edges on its sides. It shows that the section is being cut and is ready to be pasted.
- Navigate to the column where you want to paste the column you have cut. To do this, just move the cursor to the header portion of the new column area and open the context menu.
- Click on “Insert Cut Cells” to replace that column with the one you want to paste in.
And there you have it. Your column has successfully been moved from one location to another.
3. Use Sort to Switch Columns in Excel
This method is ideal when you want to formulate and shape large data sets. However, it may not be the most suitable way of moving a column if you’re working with smaller data sets.
- Navigate to the first row of the worksheet and add a new row. To do this, move your cursor into the first cell of the first column or row and open the context menu with a right-click. Within the context menu, click on Insert.
- A pop-up box appears, prompting you to select a method to add a row or a column. Choose the “Entire row” option.
- Now, you will see a whole new row, and the existing cells will move down. Since our plan is to organize the dataset, let’s name the rows, say, 1, 2, 3… to make them easy to sort. Be sure to number them in the order you want them to appear.
- Head to the Data tab and click the Sort button in the toolbar.
- A “Sort” dialogue box appears, giving you various ways to organize the data. Here, click on the Options button in the toolbar to reveal a panel to pick how to sort the data.
- Choose the “Sort left to right” option and click OK.
- You will now be reverted to the Sort dialogue box. Here, from the “Sort by” drop-down menu, choose “Row 1,” ensure that the data is sorted based on cell values, and click OK.
Now, you’ll see that the columns are sorted successfully based on the inputs you gave, thereby moving the relevant column to the desired location.
How to Move a Table Column in Excel
Moving a table in Excel is simple. All you have to do is treat the entire table as a single cell.
- Select the table by clicking on the first cell and dragging the cursor across to the last non-empty cell.
- Move your cursor to the right edge of the selected table. The cursor will change into a crossbar signaling that you’re in the drag-and-drop mode.
- Now, drag the table and place it anywhere on the sheet. As long as the entire table is selected, all the rows and columns of the table will move together.
The same method applies if you want to move multiple columns at once – select the column headers while holding down the Shift key before you drag and drop them. Use Ctrl/Command (in macOS) instead of Shift to select non-contiguous columns.
These are not the only methods to move columns in Excel. Using Macros is also an option. However, that requires you to verify the process so that the automated dataset is accurate. Therefore, it’s best to use the methods we have discussed above.
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