Select alternate rows or columns without holding Ctrl

Sometimes you may need to make a recurrent selection – shade alternate rows, or every other column, or a custom pattern, etc. Holding down Ctrl and handpicking cells is not an option for large spreadsheets with thousands of rows. MS Excel allows recurrent selections via VBA programming or conditional formatting. But there is a faster and less painstaking method.

The Repeat Selection tool helps select cells in any recurrent pattern:

  • Shade alternate rows or columns
  • Make checkerboard selections
  • Set any selection pattern and repeat it throughout a range
(Note: the video may not reflect the latest upgrades. Please use the guide below.)

How to select every Nth row (alternate rows)

Suppose you need to select every 3rd row in a table. Set the shading pattern for every third row and repeat the pattern throughout the entire range:

  1. Select the first 3rd row in your shading pattern, e.g. "Name C".
  2. Use the keyboard shortcut combinationCtrl + Shift + R.
  3. Define the range where you want to repeat the shading pattern, e.g. range A2:K15.
    Tip:find the starting cell in the range. Since "Name C" is the 3rd row – then the first row is "Name A" which begins in A2.
  4. Click OK Done, every 3rd row is selected.
  5. Now you can delete, copy, color, etc. all these rows at once.

How to select every Nth column (alternate columns)

Suppose you need to select every 2nd column in a table. Set the shading pattern for every second column and repeat the pattern throughout the entire range:

  1. Select the first 2nd column in your shading pattern, e.g. "Task B" column.
  2. Use the keyboard shortcut combinationCtrl + Shift + R.
  3. Define the area where you want to repeat the shading pattern, e.g. B1:K15.
    Tip:find the starting cell in the range. Since "Task B" is the 2nd column – then first column is "Task A" which begins in B1.
  4. Click OK Done, every 2nd column is selected.
  5. Now you can delete, copy, color, etc. all these rows at once.

How to select cells in a checkerboard pattern

Recurrent selection does not necessarily mean shading entire rows or columns. You can select a recurrent pattern of specific cells – e.g. a checkerboard pattern. Follow the same steps to make any recurrent seletion:

  1. Hold the Ctrl button and select the first two diagonal cells in the table, e.g. B2 and C3.
  2. Use the keyboard shortcut combinationCtrl + Shift + R.
  3. Define the area where you want apply the pattern, e.g. B2:K15.
  4. Click OK Done, cells are shaded in a checkerboard pattern.
  5. Now you can color or format these cells at once.

How to change default shortcuts for the Repeat Selection

You can change the hot key combinations for the Repeat Selection at any time. Note, some shortcuts may not be available if they are reserved for other operations in Excel.

XLTools tab Settingsbutton Shortcutstab Set your own shortcuts OK.

Any questions or suggestions?
PeterDoes not work if you want to select every 4th or 5th row in a column
September 20, 2019 at 23:01
Maria BalobanovaThank you, Peter! We'll double check.
September 24, 2019 at 16:46
JonDoes it HAVE to select the entire row? Cant it select only certain cells within the row?
April 22, 2016 at 14:31
Maria BalobanovaHello Jon, Sure, you can select only certain cells in any pattern you want. To do so, please follow the same principle as described in the tip for checkerboard pattern above. Thanks for your interest in XLTools!
April 22, 2016 at 15:41
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