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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Excel Tip: What's the difference between Delete and Clear?

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On with today's post. Whether we have made a mistake or are tidying up a spreadsheet, there are many occasions where we wish to delete things that we, or someone else, has already done.

Excel offers a few ways to do this - and they're not all the same. Do you know what each of them do? If not, read on.

The most common method of deleting in Excel is to use the Delete key on your keyboard. This will delete the contents of the selected cell or cells, however it will leave any formatting intact. This makes it very useful for correcting incorrect data input, but not ideal when you are tidying up a spreadsheet and you don't want any old formats hanging around.

The next option (also called delete) is when you select Delete from the right-click menu or the Home ribbon. This option deletes the actual cell itself, giving you the option to move cells left or up, or to delete the entire row or column. This is quite different to the delete key as this is changing the structure of the spreadsheet.

Finally, there is the Clear option. This is available from the Home ribbon and offers the following options:

  • Clear All
  • Clear Formats
  • Clear Contents
  • Clear Comments
  • Clear Hyperlinks
These options are pretty self-explanatory and "do what it says on the tin", but it is worth commenting on the Clear All, as this is very useful when cleaning up a spreadsheet as it gets rid of any traces of what was there before.

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  1. Thank you. You've made "delete" crystal "clear"!

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