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: Making AutoComplete Work for an Entire Column.

Making AutoComplete Work for an Entire Column

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 6, 2019)

5

The AutoComplete feature in Excel can be a great boon for data entry, making it very easy to enter multiple instances of the same text in a column. One of the constraints on the AutoComplete feature is that it only works on contiguous ranges of cells in a column. For instance, if you have data in cells B7 through B25, then AutoComplete will work just fine if you are entering data in cell B6 or B26. It will not, however, work in cells B5 or B27 if cells B6 or B26 are left empty.

The only way to get around this limitation is to make sure that you have something in every single cell in the range. Some people put characters, such as periods, in the cells they otherwise would have left blank. The problem with this, of course, is that the periods show up on a printout, and need to be removed as a final step of creating your worksheet.

A better approach is to use a non-printing character in the otherwise blank cells. Instead of a period, use a space. Better yet, you can use a 0 (zero) value. You can then instruct Excel to suppress the display of zeros in the display.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (1986) 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: Making AutoComplete Work for an Entire Column.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Making Revisions

You've turned on Highlight Changes, but how do you know what has been changed? This tip explains how Excel displays those ...

Discover More

Printing Columns and Rows

If you want to print just the contents of a number of rows and columns, it can be challenging to get the output you want. ...

Discover More

Stopping Enter from being Pressed In a Form

If you create a form using Word, chances are good that you don't want a user to mess up the layout of the form by ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Understanding AutoComplete

Entering data in a worksheet can be time consuming. One of the tools that Excel provides to make entry easier is ...

Discover More

Using AutoComplete with Disjointed Lists

AutoComplete can help you to more quickly enter information in a worksheet. How it works, behind the scenes, can affect ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is nine minus 4?

2020-05-23 11:08:32

Willy Vanhaelen

When the cell at the right and/or the left of an empty cell in a column has data Excel considers this cell not as an empty cell for AutoComplete. Consequently this empty cell becomes part of the contiguous range in the column.

So, in this tip's example, B7 and B25 being empty, AutoComplete will work if cell A7 or C7 and A25 or C25 have data.


2019-07-12 02:47:52

Alan Elston

Hello Frank
I think you can describe "it" as a limitation or a feature.
"It" works in one way in Excel and in another way in LibreOffice.
I expect if you ask a thousand people which way they prefer, you will get mixed answers. Some people may have something to do one day which favours the way "it" works in LibreOffice., and another day somethhung they do might work better if "it" works in the way it does in Excel.
Alan Elston


2019-07-11 11:16:06

Frank

LibreOffice does not have this idiotic limitation.


2019-04-09 03:29:52

Alan Elston

There is a way to get the auto complete to work in a column where there are empty cells in that column, without putting anything in the empty cells. But it relies on some complicated inter dependencies / inter connection of adjoining filled cells in other columns
H t t p s : / / w w w .excelforum.com/the-water-cooler/1181732-small-trick-in-excel-2.html#post4636789

Alan Elston


2019-04-08 08:34:42

John

I prefer using the single quote character '. It does not print and does not require any special formatting to suppress.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.