How to Move Columns in Excel Fast & Easy

Written by co-founder Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist.

The need to move columns and rows in Excel is as old as Excel itself. 

It could be due to a simple mistake or to unforeseen circumstances. The point is, data has to be moved sometimes.

Fortunately, it’s very easy to do.

In this article, we’ll cover how to rearrange columns in excel easily and quickly both in the same worksheet and in another.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Let’s go!

*This tutorial is for Excel 2019 for Windows. Got a different version? No problem, you can still follow the exact same steps.

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Before you start:

Throughout this guide, you need a data set to practice.

I’ve included one for you (for free).

Download it right below!

Download the FREE Exercise File

Download exercise file
Download free exercise file

How to rearrange columns in Excel

Let’s say you have the following dataset:

how to move columns in the same worksheet

Now, you want to move the ‘Contact #’ column after ‘Deparment’.

The usual thing being done is to insert a new column, copy the column, paste it on the newly created column, and then delete the old one.

the hassle way of moving columns (insert column, copy, paste, delete column)

But why the hassle if you can simply drag the column?

Yes, it’s possible to just drag and move the column to your intended place.

To do this, select the column by clicking the column heading (if you want to move the entire column) or the contents you want to move.

In our example, let’s select the whole column.

data overview for the moving columns tutorial

Then, move the mouse cursor to the column’s vertical edge (not on the column heading) until you see the cursor’s shape change to a four-directional arrow icon.

the four-directional arrow icon shape of the cursor on the vertical edge of column

To move the column, you have to hold down ‘Shift’ on your keyboard. If you don’t, instead of moving the column, you’ll be replacing the contents of another column.

When you’re ready, drag the column to the intended place. You’ll know where the column is going to be moved since there will be a bold line guiding you.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

In our case, the bold line should be between the ‘Address’ column and the ‘Department’ column.

green bold line between columns

Once the bold line is there, drop it by letting go of the left-click and the ‘Shift’ key. (Don’t release ‘Shift’ earlier than the left-click.)

column is successfully moved in the same worksheet

Fast and easy, right? 😉

Moving Rows

Moving rows work the same way. To move a row, just select the row or the contents, move the mouse cursor to edge, press ‘Shift’, and drag and drop!

how to move rows

Move columns to a different worksheet

Though you can just drag and drop (while holding the ‘Shift’ key) to move columns in the same worksheet, moving columns to a different worksheet is a different story.

In this case, you have to either cut (if you want to remove it from its previous sheet) or copy it (if you want to retain the column).

Back to our example. Let’s say we have a different worksheet with the employees’ usernames and we wanted to move the column to the first sheet between ‘First Name’ and ‘Deparment’.

Here’s what we want to achieve:

how to move column to a different worksheet

To start, select once again the column or the contents you want to move.

Let’s select the whole column.

the username column is selected

Copy (‘Ctrl’ + ‘C’) or cut (‘Ctrl’ + ‘X’) the column. You can also right-click the selection and choose ‘Cut’ or ‘Copy’.

cut and copy option after right-clicking the column heading

The next thing to do is go to the sheet where you want the columns to be copied.

Then, select and click where you want to insert the column.

If you want to copy the ‘Username’ column to the intended place, click the ‘Department’ column instead of ‘First Name’. The copied column will be inserted before (to the left) of the clicked column.

insert copied cells option after right-clicking column heading

Congratulations! You have successfully moved an entire column to another worksheet!

column is successfully moved in a different worksheet

Wrapping things up…

The ability to quickly move columns in Excel can save you time.

There are charts — like scatter plots — wherein arranging your data in specific columns saves you from the hassle of editing the chart’s source data.

Moving columns either in the same worksheet or to another is easy. But no matter how easy it is, you still have to keep a presence of mind.

The beauty of Excel here is that you can always undo (‘Ctrl’ + ‘Z’) your actions — like dropping the column in the wrong place. 😊

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto
2019-09-04T13:12:57+00:00