Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Taking the Drudgery out of Data Entry
The AutoFill (or fill) handle looks like this — + — and appears only when you
position the mouse (or Touch Pointer on a touchscreen) on the lower-right
corner of the active cell (or the last cell, when you’ve selected a block of
cells). If you drag a cell selection with the white-cross mouse pointer rather
than the AutoFill handle, Excel simply extends the cell selection to those cells
you drag through (see Chapter 3). If you drag a cell selection with the
arrowhead pointer, Excel moves the cell selection (see Chapter 4).
When creating a series with the fill handle, you can drag in only one direction
at a time. For example, you can fill the series or copy the entry to the range
to the left or right of the cell that contains the initial values, or you can
fill the series or copy to the range above or below the cell containing the
initial values. You can’t, however, fill or copy the series to two directions
at the same time (such as down and to the right by dragging the fill handle
As you drag the fill handle, the program keeps you informed of whatever
entry will be entered into the last cell selected in the range by displaying
that entry next to the mouse pointer (a kind of AutoFill tips, if you will). After
extending the range with the fill handle, Excel either creates a series in all of
the cells that you select or copies the entire range with the initial value. To
the right of the last entry in the filled or copied series, Excel also displays
a drop-down button that contains a shortcut menu of options. You can use
this shortcut menu to override Excel’s default filling or copying. For example,
when you use the fill handle, Excel copies an initial value into a range of cells.
But, if you want a sequential series, you could do this by selecting the Fill
Series command on the AutoFill Options shortcut menu.
In Figures 2-10 and 2-11, I illustrate how to use AutoFill to enter a row of
months, starting with January in cell B2 and ending with June in cell G2. To
do this, you simply enter Jan in cell B2 and then position the mouse pointer
or Touch Pointer on the fill handle in the lower-right corner of this cell before
you drag through to cell G2 on the right (as shown in Figure 2-10). When you
release the mouse button or remove your finger or stylus from the
touchscreen, Excel fills in the names of the rest of the months (Feb through Jun)
in the selected cells (as shown in Figure 2-11). Excel keeps the cells with the
series of months selected, giving you another chance to modify the series. (If
you went too far, you can drag the fill handle to the left to cut back on the list
of months; if you didn’t go far enough, you can drag it to the right to extend
the list of months farther.)
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