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: Default Cell Movement when Deleting.

Default Cell Movement when Deleting

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 20, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


When you select a number of cells (not entire rows or columns) and then choose to delete those cells, there are two directions that remaining cells can move: to the left or up. If the selected cells include fewer rows than columns, then Excel offers to move the remaining cells to the left. In all other situations (the number of rows is greater than or equal to the number of columns), then Excel offers to move the remaining cells up, by default.

You may not want to move the remaining cells according to Excel's assumptions; you may want to always move the remaining cells in one particular direction. There are two ways you can go about making this happen. The first is to simply memorize the keystrokes required to always move remaining cells in the desired direction. If you want to always move cells left, you would use the keystrokes Alt, E, D, L, Enter. Similarly, if you want to move cells up, just press Alt, E, D, U, Enter. If you memorize the keystrokes, you can enter them very quickly and achieve the desired results.

If you are a "mouse person," you may want to create a couple of macros that achieve the desired effect, and then assign those macros to shortcut keys that can pull them up quickly. The following macro will delete the selected cells and shift the remaining cells to the left:

Sub DeleteShiftLeft()
    Selection.Delete xlShiftToLeft
End Sub

With one small change, the macro can shift the remaining cells up:

Sub DeleteShiftUp()
    Selection.Delete xlShiftUp
End Sub

The only drawback to remember about using a macro is that when you invoke any macro, Excel clears the Undo stack. Whereas you could undo a deletion if you used the menus or keyboard, if you use a macro, you cannot undo it or any edits you did before the deletion.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2097) 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: Default Cell Movement when Deleting.

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. ...

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