Excel: AutoFill

I love AutoFill! Yep, I said it. Guess I’m a confirmed computer geek now. Here’s the easiest way to AutoFill, because you might want to try these with me. Open a new Excel workbook. Watch this! Type “January” in A1, then pull the AutoFill handle (pictured below) to the right. (Note that when you click to drag that handle, it turns into a bold plus sign.)

Look what happens! It guesses you want the months in sequence.

Now if you had put “January 2011” in A1 and dragged it forever to the right, it would fill in January – December 2011, then start at January 2012 and keep going up in years.

It works for days of the week too. Another cool thing, if you’re dealing with dates, is that Excel is good at sequences. Remember when you were in grade school and we did those number sequence exercises? It would say, “What comes next?” then it would show some thing like 1, 4, 7, … and you would have to say what was next in the sequence. Excel excels at that! (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.) If you want to schedule something that happens every Sunday for a year, type in the first two dates, and Excel will know what to do for the rest of the dates. Like this ( only dragged over one cell, but you try it across as many as you want!):

AutoFill is great with anything in sequences. If you’d rather say Week 1 through Week 52, you only have to type the first one. Excel assumes you want the full sequence. If not, you’ll have to give Excel a hint. (Week 1 in A1, Week 3 in A2 will return Week 5 in A3 when you AutoFill).

One interesting thing when dealing strictly with numerical values: Excel need more than one number to help it AutoFill. If you type “1” in A1 and then drag the AutoFill handle, it just puts 1’s across (or down, whichever way I pull the handle). That’s because Excel doesn’t want to assume anything with numbers. It wants a sequence provided first. So I type 1 in A1 and 2 in A2. THEN I can do my AutoFill.

Hope you have fun with this one!

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