Moving Cell Contents, Inserting New Cells or Deleting Cells

The contents of cells, both data values and formatting, can be moved from one part of a spreadsheet to another so that data do not have to be re-entered if the spreadsheet is reorganized. New cells can be added to a spreadsheet and old cells removed but these latter operations cause the layout of the spreadsheet to be altered.

3.8.1. Moving Cell Contents

The simplest way to move cell contents around a spreadsheet involves selecting a block of cells containing the contents to be moved, either "cutting" or "copying" those cells, selecting the location where these contents are to be moved and then pasting the data.

Moving data can only be performed with a single selection of cells which means that only continuous rectangular blocks of cells can be moved. This does mean, however, that columns or rows can be moved as a unit. By default, Gnumeric moves the entire contents of the cells including both the data values and the formatting of the cells.

Once you have selected a group of cells, they can be "cut" or "copied" either using the Edit menu, the toolbar buttons (a pair of scissors or two pieces of paper, respectively), the right mouse button context menu or keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl+X or Ctrl+C respectively). If cells are "cut" the contents will be removed from the current location. If cells are "copied", the contents will be duplicated in the new location. These two operations treat cell references in formulas slightly differently. If cells are "cut", any references in the cells in the new location will remain pointed at the original cells. If cells are "copied", the references in the cells in the new location will point to cells in the same relative position.

You can select the new location for the cells in two ways. The simplest is to select the top, left cell of the new location. Alternatively, you can select the whole new range of cells but the shape of this new range must match exactly the dimensions of the original range which is more difficult.

Finally you can "paste" the cell contents in the new location using either the Edit menu Paste menu entry, the toolbar button with a clipboard, the context menu Paste menu entry or the Ctrl+V keyboard shortcut.

An alternative way to move cells in a current worksheet involves dragging and dropping the original selection. You select the cells to be moved as above. You then place the mouse cursor on the thick white selection border. If you click and hold the left hand button, you can drag the selected cells to a new location resulting in the same operation as a "cut" and a "paste". If you hold down the Ctrl key during the click and drag of the mouse, the result is the same as a "copy" and "paste" operation and can be repeated several times.

Both the Edit menu and the context menu have an extra menu entry called Paste Special... which can be used during a cut and paste operation to selectively transfer some of the original cell contents or to alter the contents in specific ways. This option allows the transfer of only the cell contents, only the cell formats or only the calculated values of the cells. The transferred contents can also be mathematically combined with the current contents of cells in the new location. Alternatively, the selection can be transposed. See Section 5.7.3 ― Paste Special for more information on the Paste Special... command.

3.8.2. Inserting and Deleting Cells

A worksheet can also be altered by inserting or by deleting cells. These operations actually alter the locations of cells in a workbook.

Inserting and deleting columns and rows are easy to understand. If you select a group of columns or rows, selecting the Column or Row menu entries in the Insert menu will add the same number of columns to the left of the selected columns or of rows above the selected rows. You can also use the context menu for the insert operation. The context menu can be used to delete the currently selected columns or rows.

Insert operations can result in the loss of data if the last columns or rows currently contain information.

Individual cells or contiguous rectangular blocks of cells can also be inserted and deleted. During this operation, you are asked which way to shift the current cells to allow the insertion or deletion of the selected cells. The movement can be along the rows or along the columns and will result in the relative movement of cells which were previously contiguous. This shift is the fundamental difference between insert and delete operations compared to cut or copy and paste operations.