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Fill Blank Cells in Excel Column
Fill Blank Cells Manually
Fill Blank Cells in Excel 2010 / 2007
Fill Blank Cells in Excel 2003
Fill Blank Cells Programmatically
-- Fill Blank Cells Macro - Example 1
-- Fill Blank Cells Macro - Example 2
-- Fill Blank Cells Macro - Example 3
Download the Sample File
Some worksheets contain cells that have been left blank, in order to make the headings and subheadings easier to read.
However, if you want to sort or filter the list, you need to fill in the blanks, by copying the value from the first filled cell above the blank.
The following technique makes it easy to fill in the blanks. There are instructions for Excel 2010 / 2007 and earlier versions.
Select the Empty Cells
To select the empty cells, use Excel's built in Go To Special feature:
- Select columns A and B, that contain the blank cells.
- On the Ribbon's Home tab, click Find & Select
- Click Go To Special
- In the Go To Special dialog box, click Blanks, then click OK
Create a Formula
The next step is to create a formula that will copy the value from the first heading above each blank cell.
- With the blank cells selected, type an equal sign, to start the formula.
- On the keyboard, press the up arrow. This enters a reference to the cell above – cell A2 in this example.
- Press the Ctrl key and tap the Enter key, to enter the formula in all the selected cells.
Change Formulas to Values
Before you sort or filter the data, change the formulas to values. Otherwise, you'll end up with a mess.
Note: Do this carefully if other cells in the columns contain formulas. You don't want to accidentally change those formulas to values.
- Select the entire columns where you filled in the blanks with formulas -- columns A:B in this example
- On the Ribbon's Home tab, click Copy.
- Click Copy
- With the columns still selected, click the drop down arrow on the Paste command
- Click Paste Values
The blank cells are now filled in with values, and you can safely sort or filter the list.
View the steps for filling in blank cells in Excel 2003, in this short video tutorial. Written instructions are below the video.
Start by selecting the empty cells:
- Select the cells in the column, starting in the row below the column heading.
- Choose Edit | Go To
- Click the Special button
- Select Blanks, click OK
Enter the formula to copy the value:
- Type an equal sign
- Press the up arrow on the keyboard -- this will enter a reference to the cell above -- cell A2 in this example
- Hold the Ctrl key and press Enter -- this enters the formula in all selected cells
Change the formulas to values:
In order to sort or filter the data, the formulas must be changed to values.
- Select the entire column
- Choose Edit | Copy
- With the column still selected, choose Edit | Paste Special
- Select Values, click OK
Note: Do this carefully if there are other cells in the range which contain formulas.
If you frequently have to fill blank cells, you may prefer to use a macro. The following code examples will fill blank cells in the active column. Each example uses a different method to find the last row, and to fill the blank cells.
For more information on finding the last row, see Ron de Bruin's page: Find last row, column or last cell. Ron explains the advantages and disadvantages of each method.
The first example, from Dave Peterson, uses a formula to fill the cells, and pastes the results as values. The code uses the .SpecialCells(xlCellTypeLastCell) method to find the last row.
Sub FillColBlanks() 'by Dave Peterson 2004-01-06 'fill blank cells in column with value above 'http://www.contextures.com/xlDataEntry02.html Dim wks As Worksheet Dim rng As Range Dim LastRow As Long Dim col As Long Set wks = ActiveSheet With wks col = activecell.column 'or 'col = .range("b1").column Set rng = .UsedRange 'try to reset the lastcell LastRow = .Cells.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeLastCell).Row Set rng = Nothing On Error Resume Next Set rng = .Range(.Cells(2, col), .Cells(LastRow, col)) _ .Cells.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeBlanks) On Error GoTo 0 If rng Is Nothing Then MsgBox "No blanks found" Exit Sub Else rng.FormulaR1C1 = "=R[-1]C" End If 'replace formulas with values With .Cells(1, col).EntireColumn .Value = .Value End With End With End Sub
In the following code, Rick Rothstein uses the .Find method to calculate the last row. Instead of using a formula to fill from above, each cell gets its value from the cell above the first cell of the Area that it's in, using the Offset property.Sub FillColBlanks_Offset() 'by Rick Rothstein 2009-10-24 'fill blank cells in column with value above 'http://www.contextures.com/xlDataEntry02.html Dim Area As Range, LastRow As Long On Error Resume Next LastRow = Cells.Find(What:="*", SearchOrder:=xlRows, _ SearchDirection:=xlPrevious, _ LookIn:=xlFormulas).Row For Each Area In ActiveCell.EntireColumn(1).Resize(LastRow). _ SpecialCells(xlCellTypeBlanks).Areas Area.Value = Area(1).Offset(-1).Value Next End Sub
This example combines Dave Peterson's code (Example 1), with the special cells test from Ron de Bruin.
In Excel 2007, and earlier versions, there is a problem with special cells if there are more than 8192 different areas in the special cells range. This problem has been fixed in Excel 2010.
This code tries to count the areas, and if over the limit, it loops through the range in groups of 8000 rows.
Sub FillColBlanksSpecial() 'http://www.contextures.com/xlDataEntry02.html 'by Dave Peterson 2004-01-06 'fill blank cells in column with value above '2010-10-12 incorporated Ron de Bruin's test for special cells limit 'http://www.rondebruin.nl/specialcells.htm Dim wks As Worksheet Dim rng As Range Dim rng2 As Range Dim LastRow As Long Dim col As Long Dim lRows As Long Dim lLimit As Long Dim lCount As Long On Error Resume Next lRows = 2 'starting row lLimit = 8000 Set wks = ActiveSheet With wks col = ActiveCell.Column Set rng = .UsedRange 'try to reset the lastcell LastRow = .Cells.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeLastCell).Row Set rng = Nothing lCount = .Columns(col).SpecialCells(xlCellTypeBlanks).Areas(1).Cells.Count If lCount = 0 Then MsgBox "No blanks found in selected column" Exit Sub ElseIf lCount = .Columns(col).Cells.Count Then MsgBox "Over the Special Cells Limit" 'this line can be deleted Do While lRows < LastRow Set rng = .Range(.Cells(lRows, col), .Cells(lRows + lLimit, col)) _ .Cells.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeBlanks) rng.FormulaR1C1 = "=R[-1]C" lRows = lRows + lLimit Loop Else Set rng = .Range(.Cells(2, col), .Cells(LastRow, col)) _ .Cells.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeBlanks) rng.FormulaR1C1 = "=R[-1]C" End If 'replace formulas with values With .Cells(1, col).EntireColumn .Value = .Value End With End With End Sub
To see the report with blank cells, and test the Fill Blanks macros, you can download the sample file. The file is zipped, and is in Excel 2010 / 2007 format, and contains macros.
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Last updated: September 19, 2012 12:20 AM