The Excel AutoFill feature enters data based on a pattern versus entering each cell manually. The AutoFill feature is turned on by default in Excel, but if it has been turned off you must go to the File tab and select Options. In the advanced menu, make sure “enable autocomplete for cell values” has been checked. If for some reason, you do not want Excel to AutoFill values, uncheck the box and this feature will be turned off.
Excel’s AutoFill feature can be used in several circumstances.
- Excel will find a value you have already entered into another cell and will suggest that same value when you begin typing the first few characters.
- Using the drag fill you can fill data across rows or down columns.
- The fill command will also fill data across rows or down columns.
- Excel will identify a pattern and complete the series of data automatically.
In the example to the right, “expense” was entered into cell B1 and when “e” was entered into B2, Excel saw the possible value and suggested the same value be entered. To accept this value, you can either tab to move to the cell immediately to the right or hit enter to move down a row.
To deny this value simply keep typing into the cell or use backspace to delete the data entered.
Can You Drag To AutoFill Excel?
In the previous example, all accounts listed in column A are expenses and to quickly fill in column B you can use the drag fill option. Notice the green outline around cell B2. Just grab the bottom right-hand corner of the cell, click and hold down the left button on your mouse and drag the cursor down to Row 4. This will automatically fill each cell with the expense.
Another option is to simply double-click on the bottom right corner of the cell and all cells in column B will be filled as long as there is data within the adjacent cell in column A.
To drag and fill across rows, grab the bottom right-hand corner of the cell, click and hold down the left button on your mouse and drag the cursor across the row. In this example, “Office Rent” is always $850.00 a month so we can drag it across each month to AutoFill across the row. The selected cells are outlined in green until you release the mouse button and the selected area will have $850.00 in each cell.
The fill command is on the Home tab, within the editing box. Highlight the cells where you want to use the Excel AutoFill feature and click on the Fill command button. A menu will display asking if you want to AutoFill down, right, up or left. To fill only one cell with data from the cell to the left, click the empty cell, click the fill command and select right.
Is Excel’s AutoFill Good At Spotting A Pattern?
Excel needs at least two cells of filled data in order to establish a pattern. In this Excel training article’s example, January through March has been filled into row 1, and we want to continue the series and use Excel AutoFill for the remainder of the months across Row 1. Highlight January (B1) and February (B2), click the bottom right-hand corner of cell B2 and hold down the mouse button to drag the cursor across Row 1.
You will notice that as you drag across each cell the AutoFill value for that cell appears just under the cursor in a grey box. In the example above, column G will be June. Release the mouse button and each month will be entered chronologically. Excel will spot linear patterns (1,2,3,4,5), growth patterns (multiplies the data), and date patterns (day, weekday, month, or year).
To specify the pattern or series you want to AutoFill, select the Fill command and click Series. The following dialogue box will be displayed.
In this box, you can select whether you want the series displayed across a row or down a column. The type of series, where linear will increase the value by the Step Value. In this instance, the values will increase by 1. Growth type will multiply the value by the Step Value. Selecting Date will unlock the date unit box where you can then select day, weekday, month, or year.
With Excel AutoFill, you can enter a stop value to say when the series will end. For example, entering a Stop Value of 50 will fill each cell across a row from 1 to 50.