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How to AutoFill in Excel

AutoFill in Excel is a great feature that saves us a lot of time in entering numbers or values that follow a specific pattern.  Instead of entering values manually, we can use the AutoFill options to fill in values for rows and columns based on the values of other cells.

AutoFill increases efficiency in creating spreadsheets, and it works for filling in numbers, dates, formats and formulas.

Figure 1.  Final result:  How to do AutoFill

AutoFill numbers

AutoFill feature will fill in the cells based on the values of the first selected cells, creating a pattern that applies to rest of the cells.  

Example 1:

Suppose we want to fill the items in column B, incrementing by 1.  We simply enter the first two numbers in cells B3 and B4.

Figure 2.  Sample values to AutoFill in Excel 2013

Then we click the fill handle, located at the lower right corner of the cells.  When we hover the mouse over the lower right corner of the cell, the cursor shows a plus sign, which is the fill handle. Click, hold and drag the fill handle down to cell B12.  As a result, column B will now have a complete list of item numbers.

Figure 3.  Output: AutoFill numbers

Alternatively, we can use the Fill Series option in AutoFill.  The Fill Series option will appear when we right-click the fill handle and drag to select the cells.  Upon release of the mouse button, the Fill Series option will appear. Selecting the Fill Series will likewise fill the numbers in numeric order.  

Figure 4.  Fill Series option

Example 2:

Let us try again but this time, we enter 19001 and 1911 in cells B3 and B4.  

Figure 5.  Output: AutoFill using Fill Series

Note that the pattern established by AutoFill from the first two cells is an increment of 10.  Hence, the succeeding cells are filled with values adding 10 to the previous cell.

How to AutoFill dates

Example 1: AutoFill months

Suppose we want the header to display the month name from January to May.  We enter “Jan” in cell C2.

Figure 6.  Entering “Jan” in the first cell in the series

Using AutoFill, we click and drag the fill handle to the right up to cell G2.  AutoFill automatically fills in the month names.

Figure 7.  Outputl:  AutoFill months

There are several other options to AutoFill dates that makes it easy for us to enter due dates, target dates and any other pattern involving dates.  

Example 2: AutoFill due dates

Suppose we have the first due date on January 1, 2019 and we want to fill the succeeding cells with the monthly due date.  

  • Enter the first date in the series “01-Jan-2019” in cell B3

Figure 8.  Entering the first due date

  • Right-click the fill handle and drag down to B12
  • Select Fill Months in the option

Figure 9.  AutoFill Months

Figure 10.  Output: AutoFill dates

AutoFill will fill the selected cells with the first day of the succeeding months.  We can also choose other AutoFill options such as Fill Days, Fill Weekdays and Fill Years.  

Example 3: AutoFill dates in weeks

  • Select cells B2:B3

Figure 11.  Selecting the first week to AutoFill

  • Click the fill handle and drag to the right up to column H

Figure 12.  Output: AutoFill dates by weeks

AutoFill instantly fills the cells with one week interval.  

Fill without Formatting

There is also an option in AutoFill where we can fill without formatting.  

  • Select cells C3 and C4
  • Right click the fill handle and drag down to C12
  • Select the option Fill without Formatting

Figure 13.  Fill without Formatting option

Cells C5 to C12 will be filled with values based on the pattern of C3 and C4, but without the formatting of blue fill color.  

Figure 14.  Output: Using AutoFill without formatting

Fill Formatting Only

Conversely, there is also an option in AutoFill where we can fill only the formatting of the selected cells.  

  • In the example below, we select cells B3:B12 and click and drag the fill handle to the right up to column G.  
  • Then we select Fill Formatting Only in menu options

Figure 15.  Fill Formatting Only option

As a result, the formatting is reflected in rows 3 to 12 of our table, from column B to column G.  

Figure 16.  Output: How to do AutoFill with Fill Formatting Only

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