Best Excel Keyboard Shortcuts For Editing Columns & Rows

Top Excel Spreadsheet Shortcuts For Columns And Rows

Hey everyone! Chris here and I want to introduce you to instructor/blogger Rishabh Pugalia from He has graciously offered to stop by the blog and share with us some of the knowledge he currently teaches to the students in his online courses. Take it away Rishabh!

Why Use Shortcuts Anyways?

Excel is so versatile that it can be used by people from a variety of industries including students, teachers, businessmen, etc... Hence, in order to cater to such a huge and diversified audience, Microsoft had to incorporate a huge number of features in Excel. As a result, Excel has a steeper training curve compared to other spreadsheet software currently available.

While most people consider this to be a disadvantage, that really isn’t true. It can definitely be said that for a beginner, the vast number of features in Excel seem overwhelming, but if you know a few shortcuts in Excel, the tasks can become much more simple. By using the correct shortcuts, you can also save a lot of precious time, which can be utilized for other productive work. Check these 6 shortcuts in Microsoft Excel which can be used to make manipulating columns and rows a breeze!

Insert A New Column

Inserting a new column in Excel is probably one of the most frequently used tasks. Normally, the user right-clicks on a particular column and then selections the Insert option to add a new column. Notice that you have to use the mouse for this task. If you are using the keyboard, then switching to the mouse can be time-consuming.

That is why Microsoft has added an easy shortcut to insert a new column without ever using the mouse. Just press Alt + I + C ("I" for insert, "C" for column) and you will find that a new column has been added to the left of the currently selected column.

Insert A New Row

Inserting a new row is also often used. Normally, if you don’t know any Excel keyboard shortcuts, you will add a new row by right-clicking on a row and selecting Insert to add a new row. This will create a new row above the selected row. Although you might think this is pretty straightforward and won’t take much time, for people who are very productive this can be quite annoying. If you are using the keyboard and you have to switch to the mouse every now and then, it is very inconvenient for the end user.

Fortunately, there is an easy shortcut. Just press Alt + I + R  ("I" for insert, "R" for row) to create a new row.

Selecting An Entire Column

Insertion is definitely one of the more frequently used tasks in Excel, but once the columns have been set, modifying the data requires selection. There are multiple ways via which you can choose columns in Excel. The easiest and the most straightforward way is to choose the starting cell of that column with your mouse and continue holding the left mouse button while traversing down the column. That way you can select the entire column or even a part of it if required.

You can also do a similar task using the keyboard. Just as we select text in Word or PowerPoint, move the cursor to the top cell, and while holding shift, press the down arrow button on the keyboard to select the specific rows you want.

However, both of these are time-consuming. When you are certain that you want to select the whole column, just press Ctrl + Spacebar which will select the entire column(s) based on the cell range that is currently selected.

Selecting An Entire Row

Now that you know how to select entire columns, you must be wondering how do I so the same thing for rows? Just like columns, rows too can be selected by left-clicking the top cell and moving the cursor right with the mouse or via holding down the shift button on the keyboard while the cursor is in the first cell of the row, and then pressing the right arrow button.

However, a better solution is to press Shift + Spacebar to select the entire row.

Inserting Rows Or Columns

Remembering separate shortcuts for inserting rows and columns might be a bit difficult for some people (our brain can only store so many shortcuts, right?). That is why another shortcut combination is present in Excel: Ctrl + Shift + Plus Sign. This combination brings up the Insert dialog box and asks you if you want to shift cells or insert rows or columns.

Deleting Rows Or Columns

Deletion is just as important as insertion. To display the Delete Dialog Box, you can us the shortcut combination Ctrl + Minus Sign. Just like the previous shortcut, it first asks you whether you want to delete the entire row or column or shift cells. Click on the option needed and it will perform the task accordingly. 

See These Shortcuts In Action!

These 6 shortcuts should prove to be immensely beneficial in your daily work and are guaranteed to give a boost to your productivity. See these shortcuts in action in my following video.

Yoda Learning Excel Instructor Rishabh Pugalia

Rishabh Pugalia is the Co-Funder of Yoda Learning. He is a Chartered Accountant and has experience working with KPMG and J.P. Morgan. He is Microsoft Office Expert and has created the Excel Ninja and PowerPoint Ninja online courses at YodaLearning. He’s also a die-hard fan of Counter Strike!