Trim the fat

Creating documents isn't only about adding information; you also need to be able to quickly delete what you don't want. Annoyingly, Excel makes this more difficult than it needs to be.

When you select several cells at once, use the <Delete> key to remove the contents; if you hit <Backspace> it will delete only the contents of the first cell and leave the others.

If you want to remove the cells rather than just the contents, right-click and choose "Delete..." - you get the option of moving the other cells up or left to fill in the space.

If you've already removed cells from a worksheet, cleaning up the spaces that are left is very simple - assuming you've removed whole rows. Select your data (click the top-left corner of your worksheet to highlight the whole sheet) and choose Data-Sort. Pick a column to sort by, set it to Ascending and you'll get information at the top and blank rows banished to the empty section at the bottom.

You can achieve the same effect if you have headings for your columns by selecting them and choosing Data-Filter-Autofilter. This will provide you with a drop-down menu on each column in which you can select Ascending to sort straight away (see Figure 1).

You can also use the Autofilter menu to choose Blanks. That will show only the rows where the cell in that column is blank, even if there's data in the other columns.

Filter tips

Edit-Go To-Special-Blanks will select all the blank rows and blank cells in columns that have information in other rows. It's usually best to get rid of blank rows first because trying to delete blank rows and cells at the same time can give confusing results.

To delete quickly in Word, the trick is getting the selection you want. Double-click to select the current word; click three times to get the paragraph. Clicking at the side of the document selects a line; click twice for the paragraph and three times for the whole document (or the section if you've divided the document). <Ctrl>-<Delete> removes the whole word in front of the cursor (or the rest of the word if you're in the middle of it); <Ctrl>-<Backspace> takes the whole word before the cursor.

Deleting rows and cells from tables in Word is easy but slow if you use the Table-Delete menu. The <Delete> key clears the cells but leaves the table. The <Backspace> key deletes the contents and the selected cells; if you have a row or column selected it vanishes, while if you use <Backspace> with a cell selected you get the "Delete Cells" dialogue (see Figure 2). You can do it faster by selecting what you don't want and using <Ctrl>-X to cut it out.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mary Branscomb

PC Advisor (UK)
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2018

Roam freely in the digital world. Critically acclaimed performance and security at your fingertips.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?