Excel “Gotchas” that People Often Forget to Teach – Part 3, The Many Ways to Delete

Deleting in Excel is a little more complicated than just pressing the delete key.  In Excel, you can delete contents, formatting, cells, columns, rows, or the entire sheet – and the delete key just does one of these.

In Excel, there are two types of “delete”:

One is clearing the contents of a cell.  Clearing empties a cell and keeps the cell in place.  All formulas that reference those cells won’t  have to adjust.

The second type of “delete” is an actual removal of cells (or rows and columns of cells).  When removing a cell, the rest of the spreadsheet needs to adjust to “fill the gap”.

In this example, if we remove the second cell, Excel to adjusts to fill the gap and updates the formula:


To delete Do this
Contents of a cell. Select the cell, press <Delete>.Or, choose HOME,  then CLEAR CONTENTS.
The cell contents and formatting such as borders or font colour. Choose HOME,  then CLEAR ALL.
Just the formatting of a cell. Choose HOME,   then CLEAR FORMATS.
Delete an entire row, and move rows below up.Or, delete an entire column, and move columns to the left. Select the row(s) then choose HOME,  then DELETE ROWS or DELETE COLUMNS.
Deleting a cell or cells. Select the cell(s), then choose HOME,   then DELETE CELLS.Now choose which way you’d like to shift adjacent cells to fill the gap, then [Click] OK.
An entire worksheet. [Right Click] the sheet name (at the bottom), then choose DELETE.Or, choose HOME,   then DELETE SHEET.