Five tips using Excel's Fill Handle

BY J. CARLTON COLLINS, CPA

1. Drag the Fill Handle of a single cell to copy that cell. The Fill Handle is at the bottom right of any selected cell or group of cells.

2. Drag the Fill Handle of a cell containing January, Jan, JAN, Monday, Mon, or MON, Quarter 1, or Q1 to have Excel autofill those lists with the subsequent time periods. (This tip works with any month or day of the week.)

3. Double-clicking the Fill Handle copies your selection downward when there is data in an adjacent column (users sometimes refer to this technique as piggybacking the data in the adjacent column). This is especially useful when you are working with larger amounts of data containing thousands of rows—in this case a simple double-click can copy a formula downward thousands of rows in an instant.

Note: Excel 2010 users will find that this double-click trick works even if the adjacent columns are empty, as long as column headings connect the highlighted data to a distant column that can be piggybacked.

4. Drag the Fill Handle of two cells containing the numbers 1 and 2, respectively, to quickly number a range. (Make sure to highlight the two cells before dragging)

5. Holding down the Ctrl key when dragging the Fill Handle will disable the AutoFill effect.

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