Fill in Blanks in a Microsoft Excel List with Cell Values

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated July 8, 2017

Applies to: Microsoft® Excel® 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016 (Windows)

It’s a fairly common issue to have a list of Excel data where there are blanks or missing values in a column. The data may have been imported from an external source or formatted this way by a client or colleague for readability.

As a result, many data tools such as sorting, filtering and pivot tables can’t be used efficiently until the blank cells have been filled with data.

Recommended article: 10 Excel Data Entry Tricks and Shortcuts Every User Should Know

Below is a sample with missing values in the first column:

Sample Microsoft Excel worksheet with missing values.

It’s tedious to manually enter the missing values but you can fill in the data quickly using Go To Special and Paste Special.

Below is the Go To Special dialog box:

Microsoft Excel Go to Special dialog box.

Below is the Paste Special dialog box:

Microsoft Excel Paste Special dialog box.

To easily fill in the blanks with the value from the most recent cell above containing a value:

  1. Select the range of cells with blank cells or missing values (this range is often in one column).
  2. Press Control + G to display the Go To dialog box and then click on Special to display the Go To Special dialog box. Alternatively, you can click on the Home tab in the Ribbon and then select Go to Special from the Find & Select drop-down menu.
  3. Select Blanks in the Go To Special dialog box and click on OK. Excel will select all of the blank cells within the range.
  4. In the active cell (which should be the first blank cell below the first cell with data), type = followed by the cell address of the first cell above that contains data  (for example, type =A3).
  5. Press Control + Enter. This will enter the formula in all of the selected cells and reference the cell above.
  6. Select the entire column (for example, column A) and press Control + C to copy.
  7. With the same column selected, press Control + Alt + V to display the Paste Special dialog box. Alternatively, click on the Home tab in the Ribbon and select Paste Special from the Paste drop-down menu.
  8. In the Paste Special dialog box, select Values and click on OK. The values will be pasted in the cells that were previously blank.

Below is the sample file after we’ve used this process to fill in the missing values:

Microsoft Excel Sample with values replacing blanks.

You will now be able to sort, filter and create pivot tables with the list.

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Recommended Microsoft Excel training

Microsoft Excel: Intermediate / Advanced

Microsoft Excel: Data Analysis with Functions, Dashboards and What-If Analysis Tools

Microsoft Excel: Introduction to Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)


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