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How to Autofill Cells in Excel

If you wanted to fill a series of cells in Excel with the numbers 1 through 100, you could do it the hard way by manually typing each number, one cell at a time. Or, you could choose the easy way by using the autofill Excel feature.

Autofill is a feature in Excel where Excel completes a series that you begin. Using the example above, the autofill way to complete the task is as follows:

  1. Type the number 1 in cell A1.
  2. Type the number 2 in cell A2.
  3. Highlight both cells A1 and A2 by clicking your mouse in cell A1 and dragging to cell A2.
  4. Click the square handle in the bottom right of cell A2.
  5. Drag down paying attention to the number that appears to the right of your mouse. When it reaches 100, let go of the mouse.

Excel autofill series numbers

autofill excel, series of numbers - magoosh

If done correctly, Excel will now complete the series of 1, 2 that you started all the way to 100.

Autofill Excel with Other Series

Autofill can do more than just add 1 to each number in your series. In fact, Excel will guess what your series is based off of from the first two numbers — and it usually does a pretty good job!

Here’s a few other series to try:

Start with 2, 4 — and Excel will autofill 6, 8, 10, 12, etc.

Start with 5, 10 — and Excel will autofill 15, 20, 25, 30, etc.

Check out our Excel Lesson Videos to learn more about other formatting options in Excel.

Autofill More Than Just Numbers

Excel is also smart enough to complete a series with dates and times. Here’s a few more to try:

Start with Sunday, Monday — and Excel will autofill Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, etc.

Start with January, February — and Excel will autofill March, April, May, June, etc. Or, if you try the month abbreviatons Jan, Feb — then Excel will autofill with Mar, Apr, May, Jun, etc.

autofill Excel, months series - magoosh

autofill excel, series months - magoosh

Autofill Series Button

An alternative to using the drag handle to fill a series, is to start the series with only one value (e.g., the number 1). Next, click the Fill button on the Home tab. From the list of options that appear, click Series.

autofill excel, Excel fill button - magoosh

autofill excel, autofill series dialog - magoosh

A dialog box will appear where you can manually set the options for the series. You can choose whether to fill the series in rows or columns, what type of series to use, as well as the step value and stop value for the series. When you have your series options set the way you want them, click the OK button and Excel will complete the series in your spreadsheet.

There are more autofill Excel series you can use than what are described here! If you think you have a valid series, experiment by entering the first two values of the series, selecting the cells and then using the drag handle to fill the series. If you don’t like what Excel comes up with, just click Undo or Ctrl + Z on your keyboard to undo the autofill series.

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