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: Selecting Multiple Cells by Mistake.

Selecting Multiple Cells by Mistake

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 23, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


1

Lester notes that sometimes when he clicks on a single cell in a worksheet, more than one cell gets selected. Only by clicking various other cells at random in another part of the worksheet does it go back to normal where only the single cell he clicked on is selected. He wonders why this is happening.

There could be any number of causes for a problem like this. First of all, when it happens you should let go of the mouse and switch to the keyboard. With the multiple cells still selected, press the Up Arrow key once and then the Down Arrow key once. If there are still multiple cells selected, it could be that the cells are actually merged. You can unmerge the cells, if desired, or simply accept that you can't select individual cells in the merged range.

If the cells are not merged, it could be that the extend mode is currently turned on. Take a look at the status bar at the bottom of the worksheet. If you see the letters EXT in bold, then extend mode is active. Double-click the EXT letters to turn it off or simply press F8. (When Excel is in extend mode, one end of a selection is "anchored" and the selection extends from there to where you click or move next.)

If the problem still continues, it could be because of a hardware problem with the mouse. Try changing to a different mouse to see if that fixes the issue. If it doesn't, then it is also possible that it is a problem with the keyboard. If the keyboard has a sticky Shift key, then that key could be "engaged" longer than desired, resulting in a selection of a range of cells, similar to the extend mode problem mentioned earlier. If you suspect this is the cause, then you'll need to either thoroughly clean your keyboard or replace it.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7881) 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: Selecting Multiple Cells by Mistake.

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

Understanding the At and Ln Indicators

Part of the helpful information that Word provides on the status bar is designated by the labels "At" and "Ln." Here's ...

Discover More

Messed-up Typing

It is not uncommon for newcomers to Word to overwrite their existing document text as they are editing. There is a reason ...

Discover More

Preventing Changes to Styles in Documents

Have you ever created a template only to have the styles within it changed as they were used within a document? Here are ...

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)

Maintaining the Active Cell

Move from one worksheet to another, and Excel selects whatever cell was last used in the worksheet you are selecting. If ...

Discover More

Disabling the Insert Key

Tap the Insert key and you can start overwriting information already in a cell. If you don't want to do this, one way to ...

Discover More

Workaround for Multiple Rows of Worksheet Tabs

If you've got a lot of worksheets in your workbook, you may want to display their tabs in to rows at the bottom of the ...

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 two more than 2?

2022-03-26 08:17:53

Vance Durrington

What if you have done all of these things and the problem persists?


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.