Shortcuts to Deleting a Column in Excel


Excel is a powerful tool that allows for efficient management and analysis of data. Whether you are working on a complex financial model or organizing a list of contacts, deleting unnecessary columns is a common task that can help streamline your workflow. The manual process of deleting columns in Excel can be time-consuming, but fortunately, there are shortcuts available that can save you valuable time. In this blog post, we will explore some of these shortcuts and how they can help you become more productive in Excel.

Key Takeaways

  • Deleting unnecessary columns in Excel can help streamline your workflow and save time.
  • There are shortcuts available in Excel that can make the process of deleting columns quicker and more efficient.
  • Before deleting a column, it is important to understand the data and ensure there are no dependencies or critical data in the column.
  • The traditional method of manually deleting a column involves using menu options, right-clicking, or keyboard shortcuts.
  • Time-saving shortcuts include using ribbon navigation, the context menu, and keyboard shortcuts to quickly delete a column.
  • Using these shortcuts can greatly increase productivity and efficiency in Excel tasks.

Understanding the Data

Before deleting a column in Excel, it's important to have a clear understanding of the data you are working with. By following these steps, you can ensure that the deletion process goes smoothly and that you don't accidentally delete any critical information.

Identifying the column to be deleted

The first step in deleting a column is to identify the specific column you want to remove from your Excel spreadsheet. Take a moment to review the layout of your data and determine which column you no longer need. This will help you avoid any confusion or mistakes during the deletion process.

Checking for dependencies and formulas linked to the column

Before deleting a column, it's crucial to check for any dependencies or formulas that may be linked to the data in that column. This can include calculations, references, or formulas that rely on the values in the column you wish to delete. Deleting a column without considering these dependencies can lead to errors in your spreadsheet.

  • Check for formulas: Review any formulas in your Excel spreadsheet and verify if they are utilizing the column you plan to delete. Update or modify the formulas accordingly to ensure they won't be affected by the deletion.
  • Check for dependencies: Look for any other cells or columns that depend on the data in the column you intend to delete. Consider how the deletion will impact these dependencies and make any necessary adjustments to prevent errors or data loss.

Making sure the column does not contain critical data before deletion

Deleting a column permanently removes the data contained within it. Before proceeding with the deletion, take a moment to confirm that the column does not contain any critical data that you still need.

  • Review the data: Take a careful look at the content of the column you plan to delete. Consider whether any valuable information or important records are stored in that column. If so, make sure to take appropriate measures to backup or preserve that data before proceeding with the deletion.
  • Verify with stakeholders: If you are working with a shared spreadsheet or collaborating with others, it's always a good idea to verify with stakeholders that the column you want to delete does not contain any critical data that they may rely on.

Traditional Method

When working with Excel, there are various methods available to delete a column. While each method serves the same purpose, some users may find certain techniques more convenient or efficient than others. In this chapter, we will explore the traditional methods of deleting a column in Excel.

Steps to manually delete a column using the menu options

The traditional method of deleting a column in Excel involves using the menu options. This method is ideal for users who prefer navigating through the Excel interface and using the built-in features. Here are the steps to manually delete a column using the menu options:

  • Select the column you want to delete by clicking on the letter of the column header.
  • Go to the Home tab.
  • In the Cells group, click on the Delete button.
  • A drop-down menu will appear. Choose Delete Sheet Columns.
  • The selected column will be deleted, and the remaining columns will shift to fill the gap.

Highlighting the column and selecting "Delete" from the right-click menu

Another commonly used method to delete a column is by highlighting the column and selecting "Delete" from the right-click menu. This method provides a quick and easy way to delete a column without navigating through the Excel ribbon. Here's how you can delete a column using this method:

  • Right-click on the letter of the column header you want to delete.
  • A context menu will appear. Click on Delete.
  • The selected column will be deleted, and the remaining columns will shift accordingly.

Using the keyboard shortcut "Ctrl" + "-" to delete the column

For those who prefer using keyboard shortcuts, Excel offers a convenient shortcut to delete a column. By pressing "Ctrl" + "-", you can delete the selected column without having to navigate through the Excel interface. Here's how you can use this keyboard shortcut:

  • Select the column you want to delete by clicking on the letter of the column header.
  • Press and hold the Ctrl key on your keyboard.
  • While holding the Ctrl key, press the - (minus) key.
  • The selected column will be deleted, and the remaining columns will adjust accordingly.

By employing these traditional methods, you can easily delete columns in Excel based on your preferred approach. Whether you choose to use the menu options, the right-click menu, or the keyboard shortcut, Excel provides multiple ways to streamline your workflow and efficiently manage your data.

Time-Saving Shortcut 1 - Ribbon Navigation:

Deleting a column in Excel can be a time-consuming process, especially if you are not familiar with all the available shortcuts. However, by using the ribbon navigation method, you can quickly and efficiently delete a column without any hassle. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use this time-saving shortcut:

a. Opening the Excel ribbon:

The first step is to open the Excel ribbon, which contains all the necessary tools and options for managing your spreadsheet. To do this, simply follow these instructions:

  • Click on the "File" tab located at the top-left corner of the Excel window.
  • A dropdown menu will appear.
  • Click on the "Open" option to open an existing spreadsheet or choose "New" to create a new one.

Once you have opened your desired spreadsheet, you can proceed to the next step.

b. Navigating to the "Home" tab:

The next step is to navigate to the "Home" tab, which is where you will find the "Delete" option. Follow these simple instructions to reach the "Home" tab:

  • Locate the ribbon at the top of the Excel window.
  • Click on the "Home" tab.

By clicking on the "Home" tab, you will gain access to a wide range of essential functions for editing and formatting your spreadsheet.

c. Selecting "Delete" from the "Cells" section:

Now that you are on the "Home" tab, you can proceed to select the "Delete" option. Here's how:

  • Look for the "Cells" section in the ribbon menu.
  • Click on the drop-down arrow next to the "Delete" button.
  • A menu will appear with different options.
  • Select "Delete Sheet Columns" to delete the entire column.

This action will remove the selected column from your spreadsheet. However, it's important to note that this action cannot be undone, so make sure you have a backup or are certain of your decision before proceeding.

Time-Saving Shortcut 2 - Context Menu

Another quick and efficient method for deleting a column in Excel is by using the context menu. By simply right-clicking on the column header and selecting the "Delete" option from the ensuing context menu, you can swiftly remove the unwanted column.

a) Right-clicking on the column header

To begin the column deletion process, position your cursor on the header of the column you wish to remove. Ensure that you are clicking on the specific column header, as this will be the reference point for the deletion.

By right-clicking on the column header, you will open a drop-down menu with a range of options.

b) Choosing "Delete" from the context menu

Once the context menu appears after right-clicking, scroll down until you find the "Delete" option and click on it. This action will initiate the column deletion process immediately.

After selecting "Delete," a confirmation prompt may appear asking if you want to shift the remaining cells to the left or delete the entire column. Choose the appropriate option based on your specific needs.

It is important to exercise caution when selecting the deletion option, as this action cannot be undone. Make sure you have verified that you are deleting the correct column and that it will not affect any important data.

By utilizing the context menu, you can swiftly delete columns without having to navigate through multiple menus or memorize complex keyboard shortcuts. This method is especially useful when working with large datasets or when time is of the essence.

Time-Saving Shortcut 3 - Keyboard Shortcuts

When it comes to deleting a column in Excel, using keyboard shortcuts can significantly speed up the process. In this chapter, we will explore two keyboard shortcuts that can help you delete columns in Excel with just a few simple key presses.

a. Using the shortcut "Ctrl" + "-" to open the "Delete" dialog box

One of the most efficient keyboard shortcuts for deleting a column in Excel is "Ctrl" + "-". By pressing these keys simultaneously, you can open the "Delete" dialog box, which provides several options for deleting data in a column.

  • Type: In the "Delete" dialog box, you can choose the type of deletion you want to perform. Whether you want to delete the entire column or just the contents, this shortcut allows you to make the selection quickly.
  • Select: Once you have chosen the type of deletion, you can select the appropriate columns to be deleted. By default, the current column is selected, but you can easily modify the selection to include multiple columns if needed.
  • Confirmation: Finally, after making your selection, you can press "Enter" or click on the "OK" button to confirm the deletion. Excel will then delete the chosen columns based on your selection.

This keyboard shortcut is particularly useful when you need to delete multiple columns at once, as it allows you to quickly navigate through the "Delete" dialog box and make your selections without using the mouse.

b. Pressing "Enter" or selecting "Shift cells left" to delete the column

Another time-saving keyboard shortcut for deleting a column in Excel is by pressing "Enter" or selecting "Shift cells left". Once you have selected the column or columns you wish to delete, you can press "Enter" to delete the column and shift the remaining columns to the left.

  • Simple deletion: By pressing "Enter", Excel will delete the selected column and automatically adjust the remaining columns to fill the empty space.
  • Shift cells left: If you prefer more control over how the data is rearranged after deletion, you can choose the "Shift cells left" option from the "Delete" dialog box. This will shift the remaining columns to the left, allowing you to specify where the data should be moved.

This shortcut is especially useful when you only need to delete a single column or want to quickly delete a column without going through the extra steps of the "Delete" dialog box. It allows you to streamline your workflow and save valuable time in data management tasks.


Recapitulating the various time-saving shortcuts to delete a column in Excel, it is clear that using these shortcuts can greatly improve productivity and efficiency in daily Excel tasks. By taking advantage of these shortcuts, users can quickly delete columns without the need for multiple clicks and navigation through menus. This not only saves time but also reduces the risk of accidental deletion or formatting errors. So, whether you are a beginner or an experienced Excel user, remember to make use of these shortcuts to streamline your workflow and complete your tasks more efficiently.

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