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 February 23, 2017)

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.

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. ...

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