How to use Auto Fill in Excel

How to use Auto Fill in Microsoft Excel

A tutorial showing how to automatically copy or increment data in Excel spreadsheet cells using Auto Fill.

 

Data in a spreadsheet cell can be filled into other cells just by dragging the cell down or double-clicking on the last row in a series.

The Auto Fill can either repeat the contents of cells or increment the contents of cells and formulas. Sometimes the autofill will increment when you wish to repeat. You have the option to correct this after the Auto Fill takes place by clicking on the autofill options.

We can try this out by typing the day of the week in one of the cells in our spreadsheet. Then select the cell with your left mouse button. The cursor should change its shape to a crosshair +. Click that crosshair symbol with your left mouse button and drag down to complete the series. It should automatically increment to the next days of the week including weekends. If you only wanted it to fill Monday to Fry and then repeat you can change the Auto Fill options to Fill Weekdays. If you wished to repeat the same day of the week click the Auto Fill options and use the option to Copy Cells instead of Fill Series.

Excel Auto Fill options
Excel Auto Fill options

Let’s type the numerical day of the week next to one of those cells containing the day of the week and drag down to complete the series. With only one cell highlighted the default behaviour will be to repeat that number in the cells beneath rather than increment to 1, 2, 3, etc.. Click the Auto Fill options and change the Auto Fill from Copy Cells to Fill Series. The number will now change to 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.. If you want it to increment numbers by default rather than copy the cell then type 1 in one cell and then type 2 in the cell beneath that one and drag both cells with your left mouse button before you drag the Auto Fill down using the crosshair.

Repeat the same process with the Months of the year and it will behave in the same way as the alphabetical days of the week in that it will increment by default but you can change it afterwards to Copy Cells instead of Fill Series.

 

See the animation below to see autofill in action for numbers, dates and formulas.

Excel Auto Fill
Excel Auto Fill

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