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: Deleting Blank Columns.

Deleting Blank Columns

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 16, 2019)

When importing information from an external source, it is possible that the data will contain blank columns—columns with nothing in them. If you import a lot of data, then deleting these columns can be a bother. There are a couple of ways you can approach how to delete these columns.

The first approach works very well if your data is sorted by column. In other words, the data that you import is in ascending order, or you want it in sorted order. In this case, follow these steps:

  1. Select the columns that represent your data. Make sure you select, as part of the range, all the blank columns as well.
  2. Choose the Sort option from the Data menu. Excel displays the Sort dialog box.
  3. Click the Options button. Excel displays the Sort Options dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Sort Options dialog box.

  5. Choose the Sort Left to Right radio button.
  6. Click on OK to dismiss the Sort Options dialog box.
  7. Using the first Sort By drop-down list, specify the row by which you want to sort.
  8. Click on OK.

When sorting in this manner, all the empty columns end up "pushed" to the right, and your data is in a sorted order.

If you don't want your data sorted, then you can use a nifty macro that will check for blank columns in a selected range and then delete those columns. The following macro will do the trick:

Sub DeleteEmptyColumns()
    first = Selection.Column
    last = Selection.Columns(Selection.Columns.Count).Column
    For i = last To first Step -1
      If WorksheetFunction.CountBlank(ActiveSheet.Columns(i)) = 65536 Then
        Columns(i).Delete
      End If
    Next i
End Sub

To use the macro, select the range of columns in which you want blank columns deleted. The macro steps through the columns and if the column is truly blank, it is deleted. You should note that this macro will delete only columns that are truly empty. If cells within a column include a formula that returns a zero value (and you have the display of zeros values turned off) or that returns an empty string, then the column isn't empty—it contains formulas. In this case, the column won't be deleted.

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 (2660) 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: Deleting Blank Columns.

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

Setting Up an Array with Fields

One of the more esoteric ways to display data is with an "array," which is like a miniature inline table. This tip ...

Discover More

Allowing for Words that Contain Numbers

When Excel does a spell-check of the information in a worksheet, you may want it to ignore words that contain numbers. ...

Discover More

Cannot Open Multiple Word Documents

What are you to do if you try to open a document and Word automatically closes your previous document? Word is not ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Deleting Every X Rows without a Macro

Grab some info from a source other than Excel, and you may find the need to delete a certain pattern of rows from a ...

Discover More

Deleting Duplicate Text Values

Got a list of data from which you want to delete duplicates? There are a couple of techniques you can use to get rid of ...

Discover More

Quickly Deleting Rows and Columns

Deleting rows or columns is easy when you use the shortcut described in this tip. Just select the rows or columns and ...

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 eight less than 8?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


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.