Microsoft Excel: Inserting Rows and Columns with Ease

  • You can also press Ctrl-+ or Ctrl-Shift-+ without preselecting any rows or columns. When you do so, Excel will display the prompt shown in Figure 3. Press R to select Rows or C to select Columns, and then press Enter.
Figure 3: Press Ctrl-+ on your number pad or Ctrl-Shift-+ on your keyboard within a worksheet cell to display the Insert dialog box.
Another commonly used technique involves using Excel's macro recorder to record a macro that you place in your personal macro workbook and then assign a keyboard shortcut or icon. While this can be effective in Excel 2003 and earlier, actions carried out by way of a macro can't be undone; plus, users sometimes assign keyboard shortcuts to macros that supersede built-in shortcuts. For instance, one might think that Ctrl-I would be a great keyboard shortcut for inserting rows, but that means other users of that spreadsheet could no longer press Ctrl-I to italicize text.
Regardless, it's easy to streamline this task in Excel 2007 and later:
  • As shown in Figure 4, choose Insert on the Home tab, right-click on Insert Sheet Rows, and then choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar. 
Figure 4: Add Insert Sheet Rows to your Quick Access Toolbar to streamline this repetitive task.
If you haven't previously modified your Quick Access Toolbar, Insert Sheet Rows will become the fourth icon on the toolbar, which means its keyboard shortcut will be Alt-4. Going forward, you can now press Alt-4 at any time to insert a new row into your spreadsheet. If you need to insert multiple rows, you have several options:
  • Press Alt-4 as many times as needed.
  • Press Alt-4 once to insert the initial row, and then press either F4 or Ctrl-Y to repeat this action.
  • Hold down the Shift key and then use the Down arrow key to select multiple cells. Press Alt-4 to insert multiple rows at once.
  • Select one or more rows by way of the worksheet frame with your mouse, and then press Alt-4, or click the Insert Sheet Rows icon on the Quick Access Toolbar with your mouse.
As you've probably surmised, you can add the Insert Sheet Columns command to your Quick Access Toolbar as well to simplify adding columns.

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