Rows and columns in Google Sheets have a constant, pre-set width and height. But as we work with more spreadsheets, we will realize that the positional settings and default size will only sometimes work for different kinds of cell content.
In such instances, moving around one or more spreadsheet rows or rearranging our tables may be the required solution.
Google Sheets allows users to manage rows and columns in many ways. You can hide and unhide, move and change column height. Multiple rows can be merged into one to make your table easy to understand and work with.
Whatever your reason for wanting to know how to move columns and rows in Google Sheets, know that it is relatively easy.
Whether it’s a single column or a group of columns, in this tutorial, we are going to look at three ways to move them:
- Using Drag-and-drop
- Using Cut, Insert, Paste and Delete
- Using the ‘Move left / ‘Move right’ tool
Let us take a look at how you can use each of these techniques to move column B in the dataset shown below to the place between columns D and E:
Using your cursor to drag and drop columns is the quickest and easiest method to move a column. Moving column B above to the place after D only requires a swift movement with the pointer.
Follow the steps below to drag and drop your column:
- The first step is to select the column you want to be moved. Selection of a column is made by selecting the column header as we did for column B below:
Hold on till the cursor turns into a hand icon.
- Left-click, hold down your mouse on the selected column and drag it until it reaches your desired destination.
When dragging the selected column to where you want to move it, use the translucent guiding bar to see exactly where it will end up.
In our example, right between columns D and E is our drag destination. So we dragged column B till it reached there.
Dragging a column from its initial space will allow the other columns after it to shift to the left to create space to accommodate the column that has been moved.
We can see the Region column. Originally column B has now been moved to the column between Date and Population.
Tip: If you are moving a column from the left side of your spreadsheet to the right, your drag destination and all the remaining columns will shift to the right to provide space for the newly moved column.
In the examples above, we only moved column B, which is a single column, from one space to another space. You can also select multiple columns and move them together using the same method.
NOTE: Using the drag-and-drop method, you can move rows using the abovementioned steps.
Another way to move columns in google sheets is through the Edit option on the toolbar. Although it has its limitations, it is still handy in many use cases.
Suppose you want to move a single column from left or right. Then you should use this method. The “Move left” or “Move right” tool is perfect if you only want to swap columns or a set of columns.
We’ll move column B to the space between columns D and E, as we did above using this method.
- Select the column header of the column or columns that you want to move.
- Click on Edit on the toolbar menu, hover your mouse on Move, and select the “Column right” option.
You will notice columns B and C automatically swapping places. While column B moves to the right, Column C move to the left in place of B.
Repeat the second step as often as you want till the selected column is at the destination you want it to be. You’ll notice column B above has been moved twice to accommodate the space between columns D and E.
Because of all the shifting, in the end, the “Region” column (originally column B) should now be between the “Date” and “Population.” columns.
Note: If you want to move your selected columns towards the left, select ‘Move column (s) left from the Edit menu in step 2. Repeat the step as often as you need to until your selected column (s) reach(es) the destination. You should then find all the columns after and including your destination column(s) and shift right to make space for the newly moved column (s).
In this example, we have moved a single column, but you can also select multiple consecutive columns and move them together similarly.
Using either of the first two methods is fine when working with a small dataset. However, when working with lots of columns, where the data in the spreadsheet spread across multiple parts of the screen.
You might have to do a couple of screen scrolls to move columns from one part of the data to another. It can take a lot of time and energy to get work done that way. Alternatively, the following method saves you from all those kinds of stress.
We’ll still be using the same example as we’ve been using. This time, to move column B from its initial position to take the place between columns D and E, we use Cut, Insert, Paste, and Delete.
- Select the column header of the column or columns that you want to move.
- Right-click on the header or headers you’ve selected, and the first command from the menu that pops up is “Cut.” Click on it to cut the column or columns. Or you could use the shortcut and press CTRL+X on a Windows OS or CMD+X if you’re using a Mac device.
Select the column header that comes after your destination column space. Using our example, we right-clicked column E.
- Select ‘Insert 1 left’ from the popup menu after Right-clicking.
There should be a new column on the left of your selected column, making column E shift one place to the right.
If you’re moving more than one column, you must create the exact number of new columns where you want them. You can repeat the previous step as many times as you need to create the required columns.
Select the header of the newly inserted column or columns. We select column E in our example. It they are multiple columns in your case, please select them all.
Paste the column or columns you Cut into the newly created space by pressing the keyboard shortcut CTRL+V on a Windows OS or CMD+V if you’re using a Mac device.
The original column (s) you selected and Cut would now be empty. Right-click on the blank column and select Delete from the menu that pops up, or just hit Delete on your keyboard to remove them.
Here’s what the aftermath of all the cut and paste should look like:
Tip: A quicker way to insert multiple columns using the cut-and-paste method is by selecting the same number of column headers.
So instead of the regular “Insert one column to left” option that we used in our example, you’ll be able to insert multiple columns.
You’ll only have to paste the data from each column one after the other. That way, your work will be faster and less cumbersome.
Merging Rows and Cells in Google Sheets
It is also possible that you rather want to merge stuff instead of moving them around.
Merging rows and columns is another valuable Google Sheets process that can come in handy in many cases. It allows you to create one large cell containing duplicate rows, columns, and data.
Google Sheets helps make your data more elegant by allowing you to hide, delete, or move rows and merge them.
The most common use case is for centering headings but whatever your reason is, keep in mind that when you merge all rows, you run the chances of losing some of your data. Only the top leftmost value in the cell will be saved.
Suppose you have a column in your datasheet with repeated information in some cells. You can quickly merge those cells to reflect the same thing at once.
In the example below, cells (A3:A6) have the same information, so to merge them, we had to:
- Highlight the four cells
- Select Format from the toolbar menu
- Choose Merge cells from the sidebar dropdown
- Choose Merge vertically
Since we decide to Merge the four cells from four rows vertically, we get a prompt that says only the top-leftmost value will be preserved when merging cells.
So only the data from the top cell is displayed. If we had chosen Merge all, i.e. instead, Merge cells from a few rows into one cell. Only the top-leftmost value will remain.
The exciting thing about Google Sheets is that you can even do more sophisticated merging on some level. You have columns signalling daily sales reports in your spreadsheet. You could merge them to form a weekly sales report.
Even the weekly report can be combined into one monthly report, which can further be combined to form a quarterly or even yearly report. Now, thats a very satisfying level of convenience.
To combine two tables in Google Sheets, you use the Merge Sheets add-on feature, which allows you to match the data in key columns and update other records.
Sometimes you may not want to delete or move rows and columns from your Google Sheets. Hiding them may be what you really need.
Hiding rows and data can help conceal confusing or confidential data. There are some instances where a column has to be part of the table to maintain row-level specificity, but looking at it can be a bother.
You can easily hide rows like that without losing the data.
Select the line you wish to hide and Right-click it. From the menu that pops up, choose Hide row.
The row numbers won’t change like when moving columns, but two arrows will indicate an invisible line. For the rows to show up back, you only have to click on the arrows.
Sometimes we need to move rows or columns as an afterthought, and we have to bring two columns next to each other so that comparing their values will be easy.
This tutorial covers several ways to move single or multiple columns in Google Sheets. It also touches on how you can merge rows or columns likewise how to hide and unhide rows.
However, it’s essential to note that all the methods we’ve discussed will only work when moving single or multiple columns consecutively.
Presently, Google Sheets only allows users to move cells that are next to each other at a time.
Other Google Sheets Resources You May Find Useful
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