Have you ever had to type repetitive information, such as dates, into Excel and wished there was a faster and easier way? Good news – if those dates (or any information you are entering) are in a recognizable sequence, then Excel will do the work for you. Of course, there are multiple ways to do anything in Excel, so here are some choices:
Fill using the Fill Handle
If you want to extend a series of values, such as months, across a row or down a column, you can use the “fill handle”. It’s a tiny box in the bottom right corner of the cell and your mouse pointer turns to a black plus sign when you are pointing to it.
Select at least 2 cells so that Excel can see the pattern, grab the fill handle and drag it across or down as far as you need. You can even drag up and to the left. If you are entering something immediately recognizable, such as dates, you only need to enter one before you grab the fill handle. Voila! Your data is entered.
Choose the type of autofill results you need
When you use the Fill Handle, you will see a little Auto Fill Options box appear.
When you click this box, you can choose between Copy, Series, Formatting Only, and other choices (depending on what you’re entering – in this example “Months”).
If you are copying data down a column, you may be wondering why not just copy and paste. You’re right – it’s exactly the same thing if you are copying. But if you are filling in a series, there’s nothing faster.
Double-click the Fill Handle for Instant Results
If you have a column of data and need to fill the next column with the same number of rows of data, double-clicking the fill handle will do this instantly. Just fill in your first column and then start your next column. Double-click the fill handle on the entry in your second column and watch it instantly fill the series for as many rows as you have in the first column.
Autocomplete is Excel’s way of helping you fill in your data without having to type every letter (it only works for text, not numbers).
If what you are typing is elsewhere in the same column, Excel will automatically fill it in for you. Just hit Enter to accept the autocomplete, keep typing if your current entry is different from the one Excel is copying, hit Delete to clear any unwanted characters or hit Backspace to cancel the autocomplete completely.
So, the next time you need to enter the same thing over and over, try some of these tricks to make that task faster and easier.
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