Add Column in Excel

Adding a column in excel means inserting a new column to the existing dataset. Besides inserting, one may need to delete, hide, unhide, and move rows or columns. Such modifications help in structuring and organizing the dataset. As a result, it is essential to be aware of the techniques related to these alterations.

For example, while preparing a consolidated balance sheet, Mr. X realizes that the data related to the previous year is missing. To include this data, he wants to insert a new column. This is where the method of inserting a column comes in use.

Excel provides different ways of performing actions on a dataset. This article discusses the most relevant and effective methods of working with data. It covers the following aspects:

  1. Insert excel columns (alternate methods and shortcuts)
  2. Delete columns and rows
  3. Hide and unhide rows or columns
  4. Move rows or columns

Apart from inserting columns in Excel, the remaining topics have been covered in brief.

Insert-Columns-in-Excel-1

How to Add/Insert Columns in Excel?

Below are some of the examples through which you will learn how to add and insert columns in excel.

Example #1–Add Columns in Excel

The following table shows the first and the last names in columns A and B respectively. We want to insert a new column (column B) between these names, which will display the middle name.

Insert Columns Example 1

The steps to insert a new column (column B) between two existing columns (columns A and B) are listed as follows:

Step 1: Select any cell of column B. Alternatively, one can also select column B, as shown in the following image. Further, click the “insert” drop-down from the Home tab of the Excel ribbonExcel RibbonThe ribbon is an element of the UI (User Interface) which is seen as a strip that consists of buttons or tabs; it is available at the top of the excel sheet. This option was first introduced in the Microsoft Excel 2007.read more. Select “insert sheet columns.”

Note: To select a column, click its label or header on top.

Insert Columns Example 1-1

Step 2: A new column (column B) is inserted between the columns containing the first and the last names. As a result, the data (last name) of the previous column B (shown in step 1) now shifts to column C.

Note: Excel inserts a column immediately preceding the column of the selected cell. Hence, one must always select a cell accordingly. If a column is selected, Excel inserts a column preceding it.

Insert Columns Example 1-2

Example #2–Alternate Method to Insert Rows and Columns in Excel

Working on the data of example #1, we want to insert a middle name column using the following methods:

a) Select and right-click a cell

b) Select and right-click a column

a) The steps for inserting a column after selecting and right-clicking a cell are listed as follows:

Step 1: Select any cell of column B. This is because a column preceding column B is to be inserted. Right-click the selection and choose “insert,” as shown in the following image.

Insert Columns Example 2

Step 2: The “insert” dialog box appears. Select “entire column” to insert a new column.

Note: For inserting a new row, select “entire row.”

Insert Columns Example 2-1

Step 3: A new column (column B) for typing middle names has been inserted.

Insert Columns Example 2-2

b) The steps for inserting a column after selecting and right-clicking a column are listed as follows:

Step 1: Select the entire column B. This is because a column preceding column B is to be inserted. Right-click the selection and choose “insert,” as shown in the following image.

Insert Columns Example 2-6

Step 2: A new column B is inserted. The same has been shown under step 3 of method a.

Note: For inserting rows, select the entire row preceding which a new row is to be inserted. Right-click the selection and choose “insert.” The same is shown in the following image.

Insert Columns Example 2-7

Example #3–Hide and Unhide Columns & Rows in Excel

Working on the data of example #1, we want to perform the following tasks:

a) Hide columns A and B or rows 3 and 4 by right-clicking

b) Hide column A by using the “format” drop-down

c) Unhide columns B and C by right-clicking

a) The steps to hide the columns A and B or rows 3 and 4 by right-clicking are listed as follows:

Step 1: Select the columns A and B. Right-click the selection and choose “hide,” as shown in the succeeding image.

Note 1: To select a row or column, click the row number (to the left) or the column label (on top) respectively.

Note 2: Multiple adjacent rows or columns can be selected by dragging across the row and column headings. Alternatively, hold the “Shift” key while selecting the rows or columns.

Note 3: Non-adjacent rows or columns can be selected by holding the “Ctrl” key while making the selections.

Add Columns Example 3

Step 2: The columns A and B will be hidden. Likewise, select the rows 3 and 4. Right-click the selection and choose the “hide” option from the context menu. The same is shown in the following image.

Add Columns Example 3-1

The rows 3 and 4 will be hidden.

b) The steps to hide column A by using the “format” drop-down are listed as follows:

Step 1: Select any cell of column A. Click the “format” drop-down under the Home tab of the Excel ribbon. Select “hide columns” under the “hide and unhide” option.

The same is shown in the following image.

Note: Alternatively, select the relevant column to be hidden. Click “hide columns” under the “hide and unhide” option.

Add Columns Example 3-2

Step 2: The column of the selected cell, that is, column A will be hidden. Likewise, to hide rows, select the relevant row. Choose “hide rows” from the “hide and unhide” option of the “format” drop-down.

c) The steps to unhide columns B and C by right-clicking are listed as follows:

Step 1: Select the unhidden columns (A and D) immediately before and after the hidden columns (B and C). Right-click the selection and choose “unhide.”

Add Columns Example 3-3

Step 2: The columns B and C will be unhidden. The dataset appears as shown in step 1 of task b.

Likewise, unhide rows by selecting the unhidden rows (immediately before and after the hidden rows) and clicking “unhide” from the context menu.

Example #4–Move Rows or Columns in Excel

Working on the data of example #1, we want to move column B (last name) such that it precedes column A (first name).

The steps to move column B are listed as follows:

Step 1: Select the column B which is to be moved. Cut it in either of the following ways:

  • Press “Ctrl+X.”
  • Click the scissors icon from the “clipboard” group of the Home tab.
Move Example 4

Step 2: Select column A where the data of column B is to be pasted. Right-click the selection and choose “insert cut cells.”

Move Example 4-1

Alternatively, select “insert cut cells” from the “insert” drop-down of the Home tab. The same is shown in the following image.

Note: The “insert cut cells” option will be visible once the selected cells have been cut.

Move Example 4-2

Step 3: The data of column B is pasted in column A. Hence, the first column (column A) now contains the last names. The data of the initial column A (first name) automatically shifts to column B.

The same is shown in the following image.

Note: Likewise, a row can be selected, cut and pasted to the desired location. For pasting, select the “insert cut cells” option from the “insert” drop-down of the Home tab.

Move Example 4-3

Shortcuts to Insert Columns in Excel

Let us go through the two shortcuts for inserting columns and rows

a) Shortcut for inserting with the “insert” drop-down of the Home tab

The excel shortcut for inserting a row or column with the “insert” drop-down works as follows:

  1. Select a cell preceding which a row or column is to be inserted.
  2. Click the “insert” drop-down from the “cells” group of the Home tab.
  3. Press “R” to insert a row or “C” to insert a column.

A new row or column is inserted depending upon the key pressed in the third pointer.

Note: Under the “insert” drop-down, the “R” of “insert sheet rows” and the “C” of “insert sheet columns” are underlined. Hence, these keys work as shortcuts for inserting rows and columns respectively.

b) Shortcut for inserting with right-click

The shortcut for inserting a row or column with right-click works as follows:

  1. Select a cell preceding which a row or column is to be inserted.
  2. Right-click the selection and press “I.” The “insert” dialog box opens.
  3. Press “R” for inserting a row or “C” for inserting a column.
  4. Press the “Enter” key.

A new row or column is inserted depending upon the key pressed in the third pointer.

Note: If the “insert” dialog box does not open in step 2, press the “Enter” key after pressing “I.” This opens the “insert” dialog box.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does it mean to insert a column and how is it done in Excel?

Inserting a column refers to adding a new column to an existing dataset. This new column may contain additional data which can be of importance for the end-user.

Additionally, there is a possibility that a column has been omitted by mistake. In such cases, inserting a column will be helpful.

The steps to insert a column in Excel are listed as follows:

a. Select the column preceding which a new column is to be inserted.
b. Right-click the selection and choose “insert” from the context menu.

The new column will be inserted immediately before the selected column.

Note: To select a column, click its header (label) on top.

2. How to insert a column in Excel by using a shortcut?

Let us insert a new column E in Excel. The steps to insert a column (column E) by using a shortcut are listed as follows:

a. Select the existing column E.
b. Press the keys “Ctrl+Shift+plus sign(+)” together to insert a column.

The new column E will be inserted. The data of the initial column E now shifts to column F.

Note 1: One must select a column carefully. This is because Excel inserts a column preceding the selected column.

Note 2: As an alternative to step a, one can select any cell of column E. Thereafter, press “Ctrl+space” to select the entire column E.

3. How to insert multiple adjacent columns in Excel?

Let us insert columns D, E, and F in Excel. The steps to insert multiple columns (D, E, and F) are listed as follows:

a. Select as many columns in the existing dataset as the number of the new columns to be inserted. So, select the current columns D, E, and F.
b. Press the keys “Ctrl+Shift+plus sign(+)” together.

The blank columns D, E, and F will be inserted. The data of the initial columns D, E, and F shifts to columns G, H, and I.

Note 1: Alternative to step a, select adjacent cells of columns D, E, and F. These cells should be in one row. Further, press “Ctrl+space” and columns D, E, and F will be selected.

Note 2: To select multiple adjacent columns (in step a), drag across the column headings. Alternatively, hold the “Shift” key while selecting the columns.

Note 3: Alternative to step b, right-click the selection and choose “insert.”

Recommended Articles

This has been a guide to inserting columns in Excel. Here we discuss how to insert, hide, and move rows and columns in Excel along with practical examples. You may learn more about Excel from the following articles–

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