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: AutoFilling from a Custom List.

AutoFilling from a Custom List

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 31, 2014)


A great timesaver when entering data is to use Excel's AutoFill feature. To use the feature, enter enough cells that Excel can figure out how you want to fill the remaining cells in series. For instance, enter 1 and 2 into two cells, or 5 and 10 into two others, or Monday and Tuesday. Select the two cells and then click and drag the Fill handle at the bottom-right corner of the selection border.

As cool as AutoFill is, an even cooler timesaving feature is to define your own series of values that AutoFill can use. Follow these steps:

  1. Select Options from the Tools menu. Excel displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Custom Lists tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Custom Lists tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Select NEW LIST in the Custom Lists list.
  5. In the List Entries portion of the dialog box, start typing the items in your fill series, in the order they should appear. For instance, you might type a list of department managers in alphabetic order. Press Enter at the end of each element.
  6. When you are done, click the Add button.
  7. Click OK to finish.

You can now use the custom list for the AutoFill feature. Simply type whatever entry from the custom list you want to start with, select the cell, and then drag the Fill handle. Excel fills the selected cells with the items from your custom list, in order.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3050) 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: AutoFilling from a Custom List.

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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What is 5 + 9?

2012-11-21 08:05:41


Please lt us know how to sort a data

by dropping of he duplicate items

Thanking You

2012-11-21 08:02:27


please favour us with a tip in the following situation

i have a data containing details of
of account no o customers in a serial order which are 30000 in number

the custom sort order is in a another
excel file containing more than 30000

how can we accomplish sorting as per any custom sort order found in a diferent file

2012-02-04 11:44:26

Dennis Taylor

You can also create a Custom list for sorting purposes. A list of employees containing departments might be more valuable if you could quickly sort it based on a hierarchical (not alphabetical) order. For example, create a custom list that starts with Office of the President, then HR, then Finance, etc. in an order that works best for you. You can then sort your data based on this list rather either of the A-Z or Z-A orders.

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