Cleaning Up Your Excel 2010 Data
Illustration by John Hersey

Cleaning Up Your Excel 2010 Data

with Dennis Taylor

Video: Moving and inserting rows and columns of data with a simple drag

When you need to change the order of columns on a left-to-right basis, or possibly rows--moving them up or down--there are certainly standard techniques--no shortage of those in Excel--but there are some not-so-well-known shortcuts that are going to make these tasks a lot simpler. In this worksheet called MoveData it was sent to us and we need to make some changes. We like the content, but we don't like the order of the columns. But rather than inserting new columns and then moving data, we can simply achieve this with a simple drag-- and there are two ways to do this.

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Watch the Online Video Course Cleaning Up Your Excel 2010 Data
1h 26m Appropriate for all Nov 01, 2011

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In this course, Dennis Taylor explores the functions, commands, and techniques in Excel that restructure data, remove unwanted characters, convert date data into the desired format, and prepare data for efficient analysis. This course helps get data from a business management system file, other database software, a text file, or a poorly designed Excel worksheet into optimal shape for working with in Excel.

Topics include:
  • Moving or inserting rows and columns of data with a simple drag
  • Using Text to Columns
  • Harnessing the Find and Replace command to replace data at the character level
  • Dealing with special characters and wildcards during search
  • Converting dates with text functions
  • Converting text data to values/numbers
  • Checking and correcting spelling mistakes
  • Splitting data into multiple columns via the Text to Columns feature
  • Combining data from different columns via concatenation
Subjects:
Business IT
Software:
Excel
Author:
Dennis Taylor

Moving and inserting rows and columns of data with a simple drag

When you need to change the order of columns on a left-to-right basis, or possibly rows--moving them up or down--there are certainly standard techniques--no shortage of those in Excel--but there are some not-so-well-known shortcuts that are going to make these tasks a lot simpler. In this worksheet called MoveData it was sent to us and we need to make some changes. We like the content, but we don't like the order of the columns. But rather than inserting new columns and then moving data, we can simply achieve this with a simple drag-- and there are two ways to do this.

For example, suppose that we want Column E to be placed between Columns A and B. And we might have thousands of rows here; that's not important right now. We simply have selected the entire column. And I am going to be dragging either the left edge or the right edge. Notice as I position the mouse on either side--see the four way arrow, hold down that left mouse button--and as I drag leftwards here, I want to be holding down the Shift key. Now the icon changes as soon as I hold down the Shift key. So I am still dragging, holding down the Shift key, dragging leftward, putting it here between Column A and B. Let go of the mouse button first, and we've moved that column to the left.

We can go in either direction. We can do this with multiple columns. Maybe we need to move these two fields here, Social Security Number and Phone number, put them between Columns B and C. Maybe we'll drag the right edge this time; it doesn't make any difference. Left or right edge, as we drag, we are holding down the Shift key, drag this leftward, put it between Columns B and C, let go of the mouse button first, and we've moved the columns. Left or right, doesn't make any difference. If we change our mind again, we want Social Security to be to the right of Phone, we are going to drag holding down the Shift key, to the right. Let go the mouse.

We can also do this with the right mouse button, and here you don't have to hold down any special keys. Make another change. I've decided to move Status between Building and Phone. So click Column E. And wherever possible, you do want to click the column letter. I don't mean to suggest that you can't do this with just cells; you certainly can. But if the column is in play, the entire column is simpler this way. This time I'll use the right mouse button and drag either edge; it doesn't make any difference. With the right-mouse button, I want to drag this on top of Column C with the right mouse button, and as I let go, here is the menu. Shift Right and Move.

So the Status column, as I click this, is going to be between Phone, or to the left of Phone, and Building. There we are. So we can do this with what we call a right-drag--there, too, you can use multiple columns--or a standard drag. Use the left mouse button with the Shift key held down to simply control the position of columns. Now it's less likely to need to do this with rows, but in a different kind of a worksheet, which really isn't a database. A quick look at this might suggest that, for example, the Expenses Change here, if we want these three rows to be more or less in sync with the data we see up above, the Expense Changes category here for Row 10 data really belongs between 8 and 9, in other words between Sales and Profits.

So here, using cells and not an entire row--although we could use this entire row--we are going to drag upward with the Shift key this way, let go the mouse. So we can easily move rows and probably much more likely, move columns, as we saw in the example here, simply by dragging, in one of two ways, left mouse button with the Shift key, or simply use the right mouse button and then respond to the corresponding menu that pops up.

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Q: Where can I learn more about Excel formulas?
A: Discover more on this topic by visiting Excel formulas on lynda.com.
 
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