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: Using AutoComplete with Disjointed Lists.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 14, 2019)
The AutoComplete feature of Excel is pretty handy. When you are entering information into a cell, it automatically provides you with a list of the previous entries in the column that match what you've typed. Thus, if you type the letter T, then it lists all those entries starting with T. When you type the second letter, R, then it reduces the list to all those entries starting with TR.
There is a limit to AutoComplete, however: It will only search for matches in the column until it hits a blank cell. For instance, if you have values in the cells in A3:A17 and in A19:A26 (cell A18 is blank), then when you start to enter information in cell A27, only the entries in the range A19:A26 are used to display the AutoComplete list.
If you want to have Excel use everything in the full range (A3:A26) as fodder for the AutoComplete list, then there is no way around it—you will need to enter something in the blank cell (A18). A good choice is, perhaps, a single space. Select A18, hit the space bar, and then press Enter. The cell now contains a space, and AutoComplete will reference the entire range (A3:A26) when entering information into A27.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3266) 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: Using AutoComplete with Disjointed Lists.
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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.