Complex Cell Selections

Selections can be more complex than a single cell at a time. Selections may describe a continuous rectangular block of cells, an arbitrary shaped group of cells or even a discontinuous group of cells.

The most common way to select a continuous rectangular block of cells uses a click and drag mouse motion. You can select the cells in this continuous block by clicking and holding the left mouse button down on one of the corner cells (for instance, the top, leftmost cell) and dragging the mouse cursor to the opposite corner (for instance, the bottom, rightmost cell) before releasing. The selection box will expand to include all of the cells in this range.

The most common way to select an arbitrary shaped or discontinuous group of cells is to hold down the Ctrl key while using the mouse to select cells. If the cell containing the mouse cursor when you click is not part of the selection, it is added, as are any other cells enclosed in the selection box when the mouse button is released. If the cell initially containing the mouse cursor is already selected, the click or click-and-drag action instead removes all the enclosed cells from the selection. As long as you hold the Ctrl key down, all of the cells included by a click or a click and drag motion will be added to or removed from the selection.

For example, to perform an operation on all the cells in a square area except those on its diagonal, begin by clicking and dragging to select the square area. Next press and hold the Ctrl key and click on each of the cells on the diagonal, removing them from the selection. You could now use Format ▶ Cells ▶ Format... to apply a format change to all but the diagonal elements of the square area.

There are several operations which cannot be performed with odd shaped or discontinuous groups of cells.

For more information and other ways to select multiple cells, see the complete discussion in Section 5.6 ― Selecting Cells and Cell Ranges.