Deleting or removing cells: Basic how-to

Last week I wrote about why you might want to delete one or more cells, what the results of the various options are, and what to watch out for when you do them. This week I’m going to talk about how to actually do (and undo) it in various programs.

How to delete cells

General:

To delete an entire row/column quickly, most programs will allow you to do the following:

  1. Right-click on the column/row label.
  2. In the menu that appears click on the “Delete” option.

In Excel 97:

  1. Click on the “Edit” header (or type Alt-E).
  2. In the menu that appears, click on “Delete…” (or type D).
  3. In the pop-up window that appears, pick the option you want.
  4. Click the “OK” button

In Excel 2007:

  1. On the home tab, look for the “Cells” group. For me it’s the second-to-last group.
  2. The second item in that group is “Delete”. Click on the downward-pointing arrow immediately to the right. If you just click on the word Delete then it’ll assume you want to delete a single cell, and you want the cells below it shifted up.
  3. Click on “Delete Cells”
  4. In the pop-up window that appears, click on the option you want.
  5. Click on the “OK” button.

In Google Spreadsheet:

  1. Click on the Google “Edit” header (not the browser one).
  2. In the menu that appears, click on either “Delete Row” or “Delete Column”. There is no option to delete a single cell.

In OpenOffice Calc:

  1. Click on the “Edit” header (or type Alt-E).
  2. In the menu that appears, click on “Delete cells” (or type E).
  3. In the pop-up window that appears, pick the option you want.
  4. Click the “OK” button.

In Microsoft Works Spreadsheet:

  1. Click on the “Insert” menu, or type Alt-I.
  2. In the menu that appears, click on either Delete Row (or type D), or Delete Column (or type E).

How to restore deleted cells
Unfortunately, deleting cells isn’t something that’s always easy to fix if you decide later that you made a mistake.

  1. If you just deleted the cells, use the built-in “undo” function to restore them.
  2. If that’s not possible, and the cells were not blank, you can just insert blank cells.
  3. If you can’t undo, and the cells weren’t blank, then you’ll have to either load an older version of the spreadsheet if you happen to have one, or recreate the data from whatever sources you originally used.