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: Shifting Objects Off a Sheet.

Shifting Objects Off a Sheet

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 24, 2016)

Mudit ran into problems when trying to delete rows and columns in a worksheet. He sometimes gets the message "Cannot shift object off this sheet." Other people report getting the message when they try to insert rows or column.

What is happening is that an object—such as a graph, drawing object, text box, picture, or even comment—cannot be correctly handled by Excel after the deletion or insertion. If the error occurs when inserting rows or columns, it means that the insertion would push the object beyond the right or bottom boundaries of the worksheet. The solution, of course, is to check whatever is at the right or bottom of the worksheet and make changes to those objects (move or delete them) as necessary.

If the error occurs while deleting rows or columns, it is normally because there are objects attached to cells within those rows or columns, and deleting the rows or columns would leave the objects "orphaned" in some way. For instance, let's say you are deleting column D, and there is an object associated with cell D4. The object doesn't need to be situated over column D; it could be several columns away, but still belong to cell D4. If you delete column D, then the object no longer has an anchor point. Excel's solution? Don't let column D be deleted until you do something with the object that would be orphaned by the edit.

The problem can also occur if the objects in a worksheet are formatted so that they cannot be moved or sized automatically by Excel, and then you try to delete columns or rows associated with the objects. In this case, you may want to try changing the formatting of the objects in the worksheet. If you have a lot of such objects in the worksheet, the following macro can be helpful in making the change:

Sub ResetShapes()
    Dim s As Shape
    On Error Resume Next
    For Each s In ActiveSheet.Shapes
        s.Placement = xlMoveAndSize
    Next
End Sub

Microsoft provides a Knowledge Base article that can be helpful with this problem. The article specifically addresses the issue of hiding rows and columns, but the solutions work when you are trying to delete them, as well. You can check it out at this page:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/211769

If you are using Excel 97, you should reference this page, instead:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/170081

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3151) 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: Shifting Objects Off a Sheet.

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

Renaming a Style

Styles are invaluable when it comes to applying consistent formatting in and across documents. If you need to rename a style ...

Discover More

Decreasing a Paragraph's Indent

When formatting your document, you often have need to indent paragraphs. If you later want to decrease the indent used on ...

Discover More

Setting a Default Document Format

Word allows you to save your documents in a variety of different formats. You can specify the format when you actually save, ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Entering the Current Time

Need to enter the current time into a cell? It's easy to do using this keyboard shortcut. The shortcut is a handy one to know ...

Discover More

Sequentially Inputting Information

When entering data in a worksheet, you may only want to add information to the cells in a particular range. You can easily do ...

Discover More

Using Slashed Zeroes

To reduce the chances of confusion in presenting data, some people like to use zeroes with slashes through them. If you fall ...

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 8Mpixels. 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 three more than 5?

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.