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: Adjusting a Range's Starting Point.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 21, 2013)
When I select a range of cells in a worksheet, the most common method I use is to hold down the Shift key as I use the cursor-control keys to move to the ending point in the range. Sometimes, after selecting a range, I realize that I should have started a bit earlier in my selecting. For instance, I may originally select the range C3:H12, and then realize that I should have started the selection at B2 instead of C3.
While I can start the selection all over again, there is a much simpler way to extend my selection so that it includes the revised starting point. The key is to remember that when you hold down the Shift key, selections are always expanded (or contracted) in relation to the "currently selected cell." Try these steps, and you will see what I mean:
See how easy that was? All you needed to do was to modify the selected cell, without getting rid of the original range. There is another way to accomplish the same task, which involves one less keystroke. All you need to do, in step 2, is continue to hold down the Shift key as you press the Tab key. H12 immediately becomes the selected cell.
This alternative method of accomplishing the task actually brings up some interesting possibilities that you can experiment with. Again, remember that all range extending is done relative to the currently selected cell. With your initial range selected, you can press Tab or Shift+Tab to step through the cells in the range, one at a time. When you press Tab, you cycle through them from left to right and top to bottom; when you press Shift+Tab, you cycle through them in reverse order.
The interesting part comes in when you select a cell that isn't on a corner of your original range, and then try to expand your selection. Try different combinations of "active cells" and holding down the Shift key while pressing the arrow keys. You will find the different permutations rather interesting.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2100) 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: Adjusting a Range's Starting Point.
Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!
Excel's Paste Special command is used quite a bit. If you want to create some shortcuts for the command, here's some ways you ...Discover More
Need to limit the number of characters that can be entered into a cell? One easy way to do it is through the use of Data ...Discover More
There are a few editing tricks you can apply in Excel the same as you do in Word. Selecting a word from the text in a cell is ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
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.