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Repeating Cell Contents

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Repeating Cell Contents.

Julius is a former Lotus 1-2-3 user. He notes that in that program, if he presses the "\" key and follows it with anything, Lotus will repeat what he types to fill the entire cell. For example, if he types \12345, Lotus will show 123451234512345..., regardless of the width of the cell. Julius is wondering how to do the same in Excel.

There are a couple of ways you can do this one is with a formula, using the REPT worksheet function:

=REPT(12345,10)

This formula repeats the text "12345" ten times. This approach works well if you know exactly how many times you want to repeat the text, but not so well if you don't. This leads to the second approach, which is to use formatting for the cell. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or cells you want to format.
  2. Select Cells from the Format menu. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Alignment tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Alignment tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  5. Using the Horizontal drop-down list, choose Fill.
  6. Click OK.

The result is that the cell formatting in this way will repeat whatever it contains as many times as it can fit that result into the cell. If the cell is not wide enough to display even one occurrence of the result, then you will see the familiar #### markers. The cell will only display entire occurrences of the result, not partial occurrences. Thus, it will display "1234512345," but not "1234512345123."

If you later want the cell to behave as normal, simply change the formatting to normal by following the same steps and choosing a different alignment setting in the Alignment tab of the dialog box.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3214) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Repeating Cell Contents.

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Comments for this tip:

Somanka Maitra    10 Sep 2014, 15:07
Hi Michael,

Thanks for the message. Sorry about the tardy response!

I did use this method but didn't get anything. It just returned a blank cell.

Any idea why?

Thanks again for trying.



Michael (Micky) Avidan    05 Sep 2014, 07:48
@SOmanka,
Suppose your list resides in A1:A9.
In cell B2 (Not B1) type the following array formula and copy down:
=IFERROR(INDEX(A$1:A$9,MATCH(,COUNTIF(B$1:B1,A$1:A$9),)),"")
To confirm an Array formula - use the "three key combination".
While holding down CTRL+SHIFT press ENTER instead of just pressing ENTER.
Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2015)
ISRAEL
Somanka Maitra    04 Sep 2014, 10:34
Hi. My question relates to a somewhat reverse process. Suppose I have the dataset as follows:

Black
Black
Black
Blue
Blue
Blue
Red
Red
Red
... and I just want to get to a list of the colours:

Black
Blue
Red

Can I use a shortcut?
PhilP    31 Aug 2014, 07:21
@Greg

You need to use an Absolute cell reference. =$B$2+$C$2.

When copied down this put the same result in each copied cell
Greg Mouning    30 Aug 2014, 20:26
I have a similar question but related to repeating (coping) the same formula down a column? For example, if I want to see the formula =B2+C2 in cells D2, D3, D4, D5 ... Currently, Excel iterates this formula down the column. For example:

D2 = B2+C2
D3 = B3+C3
D4 = B4+C4
D5 = B5+C5

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