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Part 3. Using Excel > Task 4 How to Use AutoFill

Task 4 How to Use AutoFill

A feature called AutoFill can speed up data entry dramatically by filling in duplicate entries or a data series (such as the labels April, May, June) for you. With AutoFill, you can quickly create a list of day or month names, a series of numbers, or a list of identical text entries. Day and month names, and their standard three-letter abbreviations, are built-in lists in Excel. That's how AutoFill knows what to enter. You can create custom lists (of people or product names, for example), and AutoFill will fill them, as well.

  1. Start a Month List

    To AutoFill a list of month names, type a single month name in a cell and then select that cell. You can enter an abbreviation or type the entire month name.

  2. Drag the Fill Handle

    Move the mouse pointer over the fill handle (the small black square in the bottom right corner of the cell) until it takes the shape of a crosshair. Click and hold the left mouse button while you drag across a row or column of cells. (You can fill cells in any direction.) A ScreenTip shows what's being filled in to each cell you drag so that you can tell when you've dragged far enough.

  3. Select AutoFill Options

    Release the mouse button at the end of the row or column of cells you want to fill. The series is entered in the cells, in the proper order. An AutoFill Options button appears; click its down arrow to see a menu of options. Use this menu to select how the cells are filled—for example, you could tell Excel to create a series without copying the formatting as well.

  4. Start a Text Series

    To enter a text series, such as Division 1, Division 2, and so on, click inside the cell and type the first entry in the series. Select the cell and drag the fill handle in the direction you want to go.

  5. Release the Fill Handle

    Release the fill handle; the text series appears in the selected cells. If needed, click the arrow on the AutoFill Options button and select an option such as Copy Cells, which copies the data without creating a series.

  6. Start a Number Series

    To create a number series, type the first two numbers in adjacent cells, select the two cells, and drag the fill handle to fill the series. AutoFill automatically fills in the rest of the series based on the first two cell entries. For example, if you type 5 in one cell and 10 in the other, you'll create a series that increases by five with each cell.



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