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

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 4, 2014)

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. ...

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