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5 Methods to Move Columns in Excel – Step by Step Tutorial

Author: Siluvia Last Modified: 2024-01-24

If you use Excel tables frequently, you may need to rearrange the data columns to restructure the data for some purposes. This step-by-step tutorial provides 5 easy ways to move columns to where you want them to be, swap two columns that are far apart and rearrange many columns at the same time. In addition, it demonstrates how to quickly move rows in Excel.


Video


Move columns in Excel

As shown in the screenshot below, you want to move the "Salesman" column before the "Product" column. This section provides three methods to help you achieve it.

Method 1: Move columns with Drag and Drop

The most common way to move columns is to hold down the Shift key while dragging and dropping the column with the mouse.

Step 1: Select the column you want to move
  • To select a column, click the column letter to select it. In this case, I click the column letter "F" to select the "Salesman" column.
  • To select multiple adjacent columns, you need to click the column letter of the first column you need to move, then hold and drag the mouse to the right to select the other columns.
Notes:
  • You can also select an entire column by selecting a cell in that column and then pressing Ctrl + Space.
  • If you want to move only the cells within the data range without affecting the data outside, you need to select these cells manually.
Step 2: Press and hold the Shift key

Point to the border of the selected column, when the cursor becomes a 4-sided arrow cursor, press and hold the Shift key.

Step 3: Drag the selected column to a new position

Drag the column to the position you want, release the mouse and then leave the Shift key.

Result

The “Salesman” column is now moved before the “Product” column.

Notes:
  • If the selected column is part of a merged cell, it can’t be moved.
  • Non-adjacent columns can't be moved.

Method 2: Move columns easily and precisely with a handy tool

The above method is commonly used, but it is a waste of time when you are dealing with a range containing a large number of columns. Here, the Column List feature of Kutools for Excel is highly recommended, which helps to move columns to new position easily and precisely.

Usage:

  1. Click Kutools > Navigation Pane > Column list to open this Column list pane;
  2. In the pane, select a column that you want to move, then drag and drop it to the new position.

Notes:
  • To use this feature, you should have Kutools for Excel installed on your computer. Go to download Kutools for Excel 30-day free trial with no limitations.
  • With this feature, you can achieve the following operations as well:
    • Move a column to the beginning of the range: Select a column, click the Move to top button.
    • Move a column to the end of the range: Select a column, click the Move to end button.
    • Move a column left or right one column: Select a column, click the Up or Down button.

Method 3: Move columns with Cut and Insert

In addition, you can move columns by cutting and inserting them manually. Please do as follows.

Step 1: Select the column you want to move
  • To select a column, click the column letter to select it. In this case, I click the column letter "F" to select the "Salesman" column.
  • To select multiple adjacent columns, you need to click the column letter of the first column you need to move, then hold and drag the mouse to the right to select the other columns.
Notes:
  • You can also select an entire column by selecting a cell in that column and then pressing Ctrl + Space.
  • If you want to move only the cells within the data range without affecting the data outside, you need to select these cells manually.
Step 2: Cut the selected column

Right click the selected column, select Cut from the context menu. See screenshot:

Tip: You also can use the Ctrl + X shortcut to cut the selected column.

Step 3: Insert the cut column to the position you need
  1. Select the column before which you want to insert the cut column. In this case, I need to move the “Salesman” column before the “Product” column, so I select the “Product” column.
  2. Right click the “Product” column and select Insert Cut Cells in the right-clicking menu.
    Tips: Press the Ctrl key together with the “+” key on the numeric keypad can also inset the cut column.
Result

The “Salesman” column is now moved before the “Product” column.

Notes:
  • If the selected column is part of a merged cell, it can’t be moved.
  • Multiple non-adjacent columns can't be moved.

Swap columns in Excel

To swap columns within a data range, for example, as shown in the screenshot below, the positions of the “Salesman” column and the “Date” column need to be swapped. Using the above methods, you need to remember the original positions of the two columns and then repeat the operation to move them one by one until they are swapped, which is tedious and easy to misplace. Here the Swap Ranges feature of Kutools for Excel can help you easily swap two columns at the same time with just a few clicks.

To swap two columns at the same time, you just need to:

  1. Enable the feature by clicking Kutools > Range > Swap Ranges;
  2. Separately select the columns you want to swap.
Notes:

Rearrange columns with Data Sort

If you have many columns in a range to reorder, the faster way is to add a helper row at the top of your data range with the order you want the columns in, and then apply the Data Sort feature of Excel to move the columns to their new positions at the same time. Please do as follows step by step.

Step 1: Insert a helper row at the top of the range
  1. Select the top row of the data range by clicking the row number.
  2. Right click the selected row and select Insert from the context menu.

Now a new row is inserted above the top row of the original data range.

Step 2: Number the columns to indicate their new order

Enter a number in the cell above each column to indicate the new order of the column in the range. The columns will be sorted according to the numbers you listed in the helper row.

In this example, the number 1 above the "Date" column indicates that the "Date" column will be the first column of the sorted data range, and the "Price (USD)" column will be the last column.

Step 3: Sort the columns
  1. Select the entire range (including the numbers you specify in step 2), go to the Data tab, select Sort in the Sort & Filter group.
  2. In the popped-up Sort dialog box, click the Options button.
    Note: Make sure the My data has headers box is checked in the Sort dialog box.
  3. In the Sort Options dialog box, select the Sort left to right option, and then click the OK button.
  4. When it returns to the Sort dialog box, select Row 1 from the Sort by drop-down list, and then click OK.
Result

The columns are sorted according to the numbers you listed in the helper row (you can remove the helper row if you need).


Move rows in Excel

In addition to moving columns, you may also need to move rows. The same as moving columns, you can use the built-in features to move rows as well. Here I will briefly demonstrate how to move rows in Excel using Drag and Drop.

  1. Select the row that you want to move.
  2. Point to the border of the selected row (a 4-sided arrow displayed), press and hold the Shift key.
  3. Drag the row to the position you want, release the mouse and then leave the Shift key.
    Note: You can also use the Cut and Paste features to move rows to new position. After selecting a row, the other steps are the same as those for moving columns.

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