Fill Data Automatically in Cells Using AutoFill


One of the benefits of Excel is how it reduces your time needed to enter items. One great feature is the AutoFill function.

If you have Excel 2013 and above, there is an extra ability added to those versions of Excel. It is Flash Fill, and we will cover in another post.

Autofill Features

AutoFill uses a pattern that you have already entered in cells and uses that to automatically fill other cells with that pattern.

You can quickly take a repeating, or changing series of numbers and have Excel extrapolate that pattern in more cells. By default, this works with days of the week and months as well.

For example, say you want to have all the months of the year in a column. You could type each month individually, or use AutoFill and save some time.

If you enter two month names and then use AutoFill, it will fill the rest of the cells with the month names following what you’ve entered.

To do this, use the fill handle. The fill handle is the little square that shows in the bottom right corner of the cell you select. Or if you select more than one cell, it will be the bottom, rightmost cell of the group that you select.

The default setting for the fill handle is to show it, but it can also be changed to hide it by default. If the fill handle isn’t showing for you, check your Excel Options.

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Excel AutoFill Fill Handle Highlighted in Red Square

When you click on the fill handle and drag down, it fills in the cells with next value, which in this case is the next month. You can also drag up or drag left of the items, which would decrease the values.

Excel AutoFill Month Names

Using the Fill Handle to Autofill Month Names

Additional AutoFill Features

AutoFill can also be used to copy values and formulas down with only one double-click.

For examplie, if you had a column of data and wanted a formula that referred to each cell in the adjacent column of cells, type the formula in the first cell and then double-click the fill handle. This copies the formula down to the bottom of the column.

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Formula to Have Autofill Applied

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Result of Double-clicking to Autofill Formula

Conclusion

The Autofill feature in Excel is a real time saver for data entry. Not only that, but it also reduces the chances of spelling and formula errors.

Do you have some tips or comments about Autofill? Please let me know in the comments below.

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