How To Swap Two Columns in Excel
If you use Excel tables frequently, you may have to rearrange your data columns from time to time. Sometimes you need to restructure data, and other times you’ll want to place certain columns alongside each other for comparison.
This article will show you multiple ways to easily change the position of your Excel columns with just a few clicks or keyboard shortcuts.
Swap Two Columns with the Drag-And-Drop Method
If you try to simply drag the column from one place to another, Excel will only highlight the cells instead of actually moving them. Instead, you need to click on the right location on the cell while holding the Shift key.
This is how you do it:
- Open your Microsoft Excel file.
- Click on the header of the column that you want to move. This should highlight the entire column.
- Move the mouse to the right edge of the column until your cursor changes to four arrows pointing in all directions.
- Left click on the edge of the column and hold the Shift key.
- Drag the column to the one you want to swap it with. You should see a ‘|’ line indicating where the next column will be inserted.
- Release the mouse and the Shift key.
- The first column should come in place of the second one, and move the second one to the side.
- Take the second column and use the same drag-and-drop method to move it where the first one originally was.
- This should swap the positions of both columns.
CAUTION: Attempting to do this without holding Shift could overwrite all the data in your destination column.
Switch Places of Columns with the Cut/Paste Method
If the drag-and-drop method doesn’t appeal to you, you can use the cut/paste method instead. To do this, follow these steps:
- Open the Microsoft Excel File.
- Choose the header of the column that you want to replace. This should highlight the entire column.
- Right-click the column and choose the ‘Cut’ option. Alternatively, you can just press Ctrl + X.
- Select the header of the column that you want to swap with the first one.
- When highlighted, right-click on the column and select ‘Insert Cut Cells’ from the menu.
- This will insert the column in the place of the original one.
- Use the same method to move the second column in place of the first.
It should be noted that in some situations it can be advantageous to insert a brand new column in your desired location when copy/pasting entire columns.
Swap Two Columns Using Keyboard Shortcuts
Using keyboard shortcuts is the fastest way to swap two Excel columns. To do this, you should:
- Click on any cells in a column.
- Hold Ctrl + Space to highlight the entire column.
- Press Ctrl + X to ‘Cut’ it.
- Select the column that you want to swap with the first one.
- Hold Ctrl + Space again to highlight it.
- Hold Ctrl + the Plus Sign (+) on the numeric keypad.
- This will insert the column in place of the original one.
- Choose the second column and hold Ctrl + Space to highlight it.
- Press Ctrl + X again.
- Move it to the place of the first one and press Ctrl + the Plus Sign (+).
- This will swap the position of both columns.
Swapping Multiple Columns
You can also use the drag-and-drop method to swap multiple columns. You will need to manually replace the position of both sets of columns. Follow these steps to swap multiple columns between one location and another:
- Click on the header of a column in the first location and drag the mouse over the adjacent columns that you want to highlight. Alternatively, you can hold the Shift key and click on each column header.
- Hover the cursor over the right edge of the final column that you’ve chosen. The cursor should turn into four arrows pointing in all directions.
- Hold the Shift key and drag-and-drop the columns to the second location.
- In the second location, the new columns should come in place of the original ones, while the original ones will move to the side.
- Now select the original columns from the second location and use the same drag-and-drop method to move them to the first location.
Can I Copy/Paste more than one column at time in Excel?
Unfortunately, no. The Cut/Paste method doesn’t let you select multiple columns at once, so you can’t use it to swap more than one column at a time. This means that the keyboard shortcut method won’t work either.
How do I swap a single cell?
You can use the drag and drop method to swap single cells, both between columns and within the same column.
How do I swap data organized in rows?
All of the methods mentioned in this article can also be used to swap data organized in rows.
How do I fix a mistake I made while moving data in Excel?
Remember, if you accidentally miss-click, hit the delete key, or use the wrong keyboard shortcut, Excel has the same handy “Undo” function.” as Word. You can also use the keyboard shortcut for “Undo,” which is “Ctrl + Z.”
Switch It Up
As you can see, there are multiple simple ways to switch the places of your Excel columns. This way, you can reorganize your spreadsheets without needing to manually replace the data.
When you work with large Excel sheets, a cut/paste method can be more secure and precise than the drag-and-drop one. However, with the drag-and-drop method, you can easily move more columns at the same time. If you want to swap individual columns as quickly as possible, you can also use keyboard shortcuts.
Which method do you prefer? If you have an alternative suggestion, please share it in the comments below.