How to Delete Cells and Data in Excel 2010

In Excel 2010, when you need to delete data, remove formatting in a cell selection, or remove entire cells, rows, or columns, you have many options. Excel can perform two kinds of cell deletions in a worksheet: clearing cell data and deleting the cell.

Clearing cell contents

Clearing cells just deletes or empties the cell's contents without removing the cell from the worksheet, which would alter the layout of surrounding cells. To get rid of just the contents of a cell selection, 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, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cells containing the content you want to clear.

  2. Click the Clear button (the one with the eraser) in the Editing group on the Home tab.

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

    • Clear All gets rid of all formatting, comments, 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 comments in the cell selection but leaves everything else intact.

    • Clear Hyperlinks removes the active hyperlinks in the cell selection but leaves their descriptive text.

      Excel 2010 gives you options for clearing information from a cell.
      Excel 2010 gives you options for clearing information from a cell.

Deleting cells, rows, or columns

Deleting cells 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 caused by the deletion.

To delete the actual cell selection rather than just clear the cell 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 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 moves entries from neighboring columns on the right to the left to fill in gaps created when you delete the cell selection. This is the default option.

    • Shift Cells Up moves entries up from neighboring rows below.

    • Entire Row removes all the rows in the current cell selection.

    • Entire Column deletes all the columns in the current cell selection.

      Use Excel's Delete commands to completely eliminate cells and their contents.
      Use Excel's Delete commands to completely eliminate cells and their 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're sure that the columns and rows in question contain nothing of value.

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