How to select a column in an Excel table

Usually we select ENTIRE column rather than the data column. That leads to many side effects including applying unnecessary formatting to millions of rows or thousands of columns. Tables make it extremely easy to select only the data in a column. See for yourself.


Just hover the mouse cursor over the column name in a table and click. It selects only the data in the column – not the entire sheet column. Even if there are empty cells in the column, the entire data column will be selected. To select a table row, right click and choose Select – Table Row.
Now you NEVER need to select entire columns and rows across the sheet.

Manage complex slides with ease using Selection Pane

The pain

PowerPoint slides can get crowded. If you have multiple overlapping objects, reaching the objects which are behind other objects is a very problematic area. You have to either struggle with Send to Back / Front or move the overlapping objects manually. Both methods are a compromise.

The solution: Selection Pane

Since Office 2007 Microsoft added Selection Pane. Once you know how to use it, you will wonder why you did not know this earlier. It will save you hours of struggle.

Home – Select – Selection Pane.


It is so simple but so effective. It shows a list of all objects on the slide. The object on top is physically in front of all objects. The object at the bottom is behind all objects.

Each item can be hidden by clicking on the icon of the eye.


So if you want to select and work with an object at the bottom, simple hide the objects on top.


If an object is hidden, it will not be shown in the presentation. Therefore, after your work is done, remember to choose SHOW ALL.

Change the names

Selection Pane also allows you to change the default names given to objects. Naming objects makes it easy to animate them and rearrange them. When you are creating complex slides, keep the selection pane open and change the name of an object as soon as you add it.




Reorder objects easily

Reordering objects is much easier using Selection Pane rather than struggling with Send to Back / Front.

You can use the up/down arrows or drag drop (2010 onwards) to reorder items. Grouped items can be moved together.

When to hide the objects permanently

If you use custom shows, you will need to see the titles of slides. If there are slides with the title textbox removed, you cannot see the title. The list only shows you slide number. This leads to a lot of confusion.

In such cases, add the title but hide it. That way the title is shown in Custom Show dialog but it is not visible in the presentation… best of both worlds!

Put it in QAT

This is a very useful feature. Add it to the Quick Access Toolbar. Other good candidates for QAT are Alignment dropdown, Format Painter, Animation Painter, Clear Formatting and SmartArt.

Also available in Word and Excel

Although it is most useful in PowerPoint, remember to use it in other products as well.

The art of selection

The need

Selecting text, data or objects is so commonly done that we don’t even think how it is ACTUALLY being done. As a result, many methods of selecting things are inefficient. Each time you may waste few seconds, but it adds up. Based upon what I have seen, I feel most of us waste at least 15 minutes a day because we don’t use the right method of selecting things.

Ctrl A = Select All – not just in Word

All of us know CTRL A selects the whole document. Unfortunately, we never try it elsewhere.

The idea is simple. Wherever there is a logical need for selecting everything in a given context – try CTRL A

  1. Excel Table If cursor is inside a table CTRL A selects the data portion. Another CTRL A selects the header row as well. Another CTRL A selects the whole sheet. The active cell always remains the same. (will explain this in another article)
  2. Excel data : CTRL A selects contiguous block. Another CTRL A selects whole sheet.
  3. Excel Find Search Results: Selects all results. Ctrl Click can be used for unselecting individual items.
  4. In a Slide: Selects all objects. Ctrl Click for exceptions

Inclusive selection

This is useful for shapes, pictures and other objects. If there are multiple objects on a slide, Click somewhere outside any object and draw a rectangle by dragging the mouse.

Any object which is completely inside the rectangle is selected. Ctrl Click for exception.



Select beginning, scroll to end, Shift Click

This is useful for very long lists, long data, long portions of text, web pages etc.

Start the selection at the beginning. But don’t try to drag the mouse all the way to the end, because it is very cumbersome. Let some small portion in the beginning be selected.

Now scroll to the end point without clicking anywhere inside the document. Now press shift key and click at the end point. The entire intervening area from beginning to end will be selected.

Go To in Excel

If you know the beginning and ending of the range, you can choose F5 (Go To) and type the range like A1:D1000 and click ok.

If you have a name for the range or the table, you can type the name itself.

You can open the dropdown near the name box to move to and highlight any named item.


Triple Click

Double click selects a word. Triple click selects a paragraph in Word. Did you know that?

Shift is the selection key

If you are moving from place A to place B in the document by any method – page down, scroll, mouse scroll , whatever… and if the shift key is pressed, then it selects things.

Try this out to understand what I mean.

End mode in Excel

Make sure you have a block of data to try this out.


Look at the status bar. It should show Ready

Now press and release the END key.

Now status bar shows END mode. What does this mean? Excel now knows that you want to move the selection from the current place to the end. But it still does not know end in which direction. So it is waiting for you to clarify that. That is called End Mode.

Now you are supposed to guide Excel by just pressing and releasing up, down, right or left key. Then it will move to the end in that direction.

Of course if Shift key was pressed all along then it will SELECT from original to final position.

So if you want to select from current position (C4) to the end of the row, the exact sequence would be like this.

  1. Keep pressing SHIFT key
  2. Press and release End key
  3. Notice that End mode is active in the status bar
  4. Press and release Right arrow key
  5. Now C4 to end of the row will be selected
  6. Now release the SHIFT key

Selecting within Word tables

Lot of convenient methods of selection are available using mouse. The best way is to create a table. Move the mouse cursor slowly and whenever it changes try a single or double click.

Also try single or double click on the left side margin, just outside the table.


Of course there are hundreds of other methods of selecting effectively. This article has shown some commonly useful ones. But keep on the lookout for situations where you are selecting something repetitively. That is the place where you have to find a faster method of selection. Try to explore. I am sure you will find a better way.

If you cant, ask me.