In Microsoft Office Excel 2007, when you need to delete data, remove formatting in a cell selection, or remove entire cells, rows, or columns, you have many options depending on your objective. Excel can perform two kinds of cell deletions in a worksheet: clearing cell data and deleting the cell.

Clearing cell contents

Clearing just deletes or empties the cell’s contents or formatting without removing the cell from the worksheet, which would alter the layout of the surrounding cells. To get rid of just the contents of a cell selection, just select the range of cells to be cleared and press the Delete key.

If you want to get rid of more than just the contents of a cell selection, like cell formatting or cell comments, select the cell(s) and follow these steps:

  1. Click the Clear button (the one with the eraser) in the Editing group on the Ribbon’s Home tab.

  2. Click one of the following options on the Clear drop-down menu:

    • Clear All gets rid of all formatting, notes, and entries in the cell selection.

    • Clear Formats deletes only the formatting from the cell selection without touching anything else.

    • Clear Contents deletes only the cell entries, just like pressing the Delete key.

    • Clear Comments removes the notes in the cell selection but leaves everything else intact.

      Excel 2007 gives you for options for clearing information from a cell.
      Excel 2007 gives you for options for clearing information from a cell.

Deleting cells, rows, or columns

Deleting gets rid of the whole kit and caboodle — cell structure along with all its contents and formatting. When you delete a cell (or an entire row or column), Excel has to shuffle the position of entries in the surrounding cells to plug up any gaps made by the demise.

To delete the actual cell selection rather than just clear out the contents, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cells, rows, or columns you want to delete.

  2. Click the drop-down button attached to the Delete command button in the Cells group of the Home tab.

  3. Click Delete Cells on the drop-down menu.

    The Delete dialog box opens, showing these options for filling in the gaps:

    • Shift Cells Left: This default option moves entries from neighboring columns on the right to the left to fill in gaps created when you delete the cell selection.

    • Shift Cells Up: Select this to move entries up from neighboring rows below.

    • Entire Row: Select this to remove all the rows in the current cell selection.

    • Entire Column: Select this to delete all the columns in the current cell selection.

      Completely eliminate a cell and its contents.
      Completely eliminate a cell and its contents.

To quickly delete an entire column or row from the worksheet, you can right-click the column or row label and select Delete from the shortcut menu (or choose Delete Sheet Rows or Delete Sheet Columns from the Delete button’s menu).

Deleting entire columns and rows from a worksheet is risky business unless you are sure that the columns and rows in question contain nothing of value.