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Playing The “Shifty Cell” Game

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004 by | Filed Under: MS Excel

Playing The “Shifty Cell” Game

Have you ever found yourself happily working in a large MS Excel worksheet only to discover that you need some cells in the middle of the thing?

You’d add rows or columns, but that will mess with everything else in the worksheet. (You know—data way off yonder in the far reaches of the worksheet will suddenly be displaced causing mass chaos in the middle of your utopia.)

You could highlight just the data that needs to be moved and drag it down (or right, or wherever) but what if there’s a lot of data? Isn’t it time consuming to do all that highlighting and scrolling?

Well, so much for the “happy working”.

Or… maybe not.

Did you know that Excel has the ability to give you empty cells in the middle of data, not just rows and columns?


See how only the one column of data was moved down? (Versus an inserted row which would have moved all data down.)

What it’s actually doing is shifting cells either down or right based on choices you make. But the shifting is only for the specific area targeted for the move—not all data universally across a row or column.

The first step is to realize that you need to shift cells.

Now you need to decide how many cells need to be shifted.

Next you must highlight the cells that you need to be blank when this process is over.

Now go to the Insert menu, Cells choice. (You can also use Ctrl + Shift + Plus Sign.)

The Insert window will open giving you the following choices.


As you can see, the top two choices allow you to either shift the cells (and their data contents) right or down.

(The bottom two choices will allow for the usual insert of a column or row—but it’s the top two that we’re here for today.)

Click on the type of shift you want then click OK. (If you choose to do this part without the mouse then use the arrow keys to move up and down the list, stopping on your choice. Then Tab over to the OK button and hit Enter.)

Poof—your cells and data have been moved.

No fuss, no muss.

There’s also a counterpart to this “insert of cells shift” which is considered a delete. It moves cells up or left, which will result in the loss of whatever was in the cells highlighted when the delete process starts.

(Basically the data to the right or below—depends on your choice yet again—will be moved over the selected cells. The data in the selected cells will be overwritten.)

To get to the delete window you can either go to the Edit menu, Delete choice or you can use the key combination of Ctrl + Minus Sign.

Either way you get a window that looks like this


As you can see, it’s pretty much the same thing, with the exception of the cell movement directions.

Make your selection and click OK. (Or, the keys from above work with this window too.)

Well, you’re all ready to get into the game—that new and amazing Excel game known as the “Shifty Cell Game”.

~ April

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