How to remove blank cells in Excel

The tutorial will teach you how to remove blank spaces in Excel to give your worksheets a clear and professional look.

Empty cells are not bad if you are intentionally leaving them in right places for aesthetic reasons. But blank cells in wrong places are certainly undesirable. Luckily, there is a relatively easy way to remove blanks in Excel, and in a moment you will know all the details of this technique.

How to remove blank cells in Excel

Deleting empty cells in Excel is easy. However, this method is not applicable in all situations. To keep yourself on the safe side, please be sure to make a backup copy of your worksheet and read these caveats before you do anything else.

With a backup copy stored in a save location, carry out the following steps to delete empty cells in Excel:

  1. Select the range where you want to remove blanks. To quickly select all cells with data, click the upper-left cell and press Ctrl + Shift + End. This will extend the selection to the last used cell.
  2. Press F5 and click Special… . Or go to the Home tab > Formats group, and click Find & Select > Go to Special:
    Go To Special…
  3. In the Go To Special dialog box, select Blanks and click OK. This will select all the blank cells in the range.
    Select all blank cells in the range.
  4. Right-click any of the selected blanks, and choose Delete… from the context menu:
    Delete blank cells in Excel.
  5. Depending on the layout of your data, choose to shift cells left or shift cells up, and click OK. In this example, we go with the first option:
    Delete blank spaces and shift cells left.

That's it. You have successfully removed blank spaces in your table:
Empty cells are removed.

Tip. If something has gone awry, don't panic and immediately press Ctrl + Z to get your data back.

When not to remove empty cells by selecting blanks

The Go To Special > Blanks technique works fine for a single column or row. It can also successfully eliminate empty cells in a range of independent rows or columns like in the above example. However, it could be detrimental to structured data. To prevent this from happening, please be very careful when removing blanks in your worksheets and keep in mind the following caveats:

1. Delete blank rows and columns instead of cells

If your data is organized in a table where columns and rows contain related information, deleting empty cells will mess up the data. In this case, you should only remove blank rows and blank columns. The linked tutorials explain how to do this quickly and safely.

2. Does not work for Excel tables

It is not possible to delete any individual cells in an Excel table (vs. a range), you are only allowed to remove entire table rows. Or you can convert table to range first, and then remove blank cells.

3. May damage formulas and named ranges

Excel formulas can adjust to many changes made to the referenced data. Many, but not all. In some situations, the formulas that referred to the deleted cells may get broken. So, after removing blank spaces, take a quick look at the related formulas and/or named ranges to make sure they work normally.

How to extract a list of data ignoring blanks

If you fear that removing blank cells in a column may mangle your data, leave the original column as-is and extract non-empty cells to somewhere else. This method comes in handy, when you are creating a custom list or drop-down data validation list and wish to ensure there are no blanks in it.

With the source list in A2:A11, enter the below array formula in C2, press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to complete it correctly, and then copy the formula down to a few more cells. The number of cells where you copy the formula should be equal to or greater than the number of items in your list.

Formula to extract non-blank cells:

=IFERROR(INDEX($A$2:$A$11, SMALL(IF(NOT(ISBLANK($A$2:$A$11)), ROW($A$1:$A$10),""), ROW(A1))),"")

The following screenshot shows the result:
Extract a list of data in Excel excluding blank cells

How the formula works

Tricky at first sight, upon a closer look the formula's logic is easy to follow. In plain English, the formula in C2 reads as follows: return the first value in the range A2:A11 if that cell is not blank. In case of an error, return an empty string ("").

For thoughtful Excel users, who are curious to know nuts and bolts of every new formula, here's the detailed break-down:

You have the INDEX function return a value from $A$2:$A$11 based on the specified row number (not a real row number, a relative row number in the range). In a simpler scenario, we could put INDEX($A$2:$A$11, 1) in C2, and it would fetch us a value in A2. The problem is that we need to cater for 2 more things:

  • Make sure A2 is not blank
  • Return the 2nd non-blank value in C3, the 3rd non-blank value in C4, and so on.

Both these tasks are handled by the SMALL(array,k) function:

SMALL(IF(NOT(ISBLANK($A$2:$A$11)), ROW($A$1:$A$10),""), ROW(A1))

In our case, the array argument is generated dynamically in the following way:

  • NOT(ISBLANK($A$2:$A$11)) identifies which cells in the target range are not blank and returns TRUE for them, otherwise FALSE. The resulting array of TRUE and FALSE goes to the logical test of the IF function.
  • IF evaluates each element of the TRUE/FALSE array and returns a corresponding number for TRUE, an empty string for FALSE:
    IF({TRUE;FALSE;TRUE;FALSE;TRUE;TRUE;FALSE;TRUE;FALSE;TRUE}, ROW($A$1:$A$10),"")

ROW($A$1:$A$10) is only needed to return an array of numbers 1 through 10 (because there are 10 cells in our range) from which IF can pick a number for TRUE values.

As the result, we get the array {1;"";3;"";5;6;"";8;"";10} and our complex SMALL function transforms into this simple one:

SMALL({1;"";3;"";5;6;"";8;"";10}, ROW(A1))

As you see, the array argument contains only the numbers of non-empty cells (mind you, these are relative positions of the elements in the array, i.e. A2 is element 1, A3 is element 2, and so on).

In the k argument, we put ROW(A1) which instructs the SMALL function to return the 1's smallest number. Due to the use of relative cell reference the row number goes up in increments of 1 as you copy the formula down. So, in C3, k will change to ROW(A2) and the formula will return the number of the 2nd non-blank cell, and so on.

However, we do not actually need the non-empty cell numbers, we need their values. So, we move forward and nest the SMALL function into the row_num argument of INDEX forcing it to return a value from the corresponding row in the range.

As a finishing touch, we enclose the whole construction in the IFERROR function to replace errors with empty strings. Errors are inevitable because you cannot know how many non-blank cells are in the target range, therefore you copy the formula to a bigger number of cells.

Given the above, we can build this generic formula to extract values ignoring blanks:

{=IFERROR(INDEX(range, SMALL(IF(NOT(ISBLANK(range)), ROW($A$1:$A$10),""), ROW(A1))),"")}

Where "range" is the range with your original data. Please pay attention that ROW($A$1:$A$10) and ROW(A1) are constant parts and never change no matter where your data starts and how many cells it includes.

How to delete empty cells after the last cell with data

Blank cells that contain formatting or non-printable characters may cause a lot of issues in Excel. For example, you may end up having a much bigger file size larger than necessary or have a few blank pages printed. To avoid these issues, we will delete (or clear) empty rows and columns that contain formatting, spaces or unknown invisible characters.

How to locate the last used cell on the sheet

To move to the last cell on the sheet that contains either data or formatting, click on any cell and press Ctrl + End.

If the above shortcut has selected the last cell with your data, it means the remaining rows and columns are really blank and no further manipulations are needed. But if it has taken you to a visually empty cell, know that Excel does not consider that cell blank. It could be a mere space character produced by an accidental key stroke, a custom number format set for that cell, or a non-printable character imported from an external database. Whichever the reason, that cell is not empty.

Delete cells after the last cell with data

To clear all content and formatting after the last cell with data, do the following:

  1. Click the heading of the first blank column to the right of your data and press Ctrl + Shift + End. This will select a range of cells between your data and the last used cell on the sheet.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Clear > Clear All. Or right-click the selection and click Delete… > Entire column:
    Delete empty cells after the last cell with data

  3. Click the heading of the first blank row below your data and press Ctrl + Shift + End.
  4. Click Clear > Clear All on the Home tab or right-click the selection and choose Delete… > Entire row.
  5. Press Ctrl + S to save the workbook.

Check the used range to make sure it now contains only cells with data and no blanks. If the Ctrl + End shortcut selects a blank cell again, save the workbook and close it. When you open the worksheet again, the last used cell should be the last cell with data.

Tip. Given that Microsoft Excel 2007 through 2019 contains over 1,000,000 rows and more than 16,000 columns, you may want to reduce the workspace size to prevent your users from unintentionally entering data into wrong cells. For this, you can simply remove empty cells from their view as explained in How to hide unused (blank) rows and columns.

That's how you delete blank in Excel. I thank you for reading and hope to see you on our blog next week!

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32 responses to "How to remove blank cells in Excel"

  1. Ed Hodges says:

    Hi there thanks for the guide, how would you apply this to multiple columns? If this is not possible, is there a simple way to combine columns where this approach has been used multiple times. Many thanks.
    Ed

  2. Dustin Watkins says:

    This does not appear to work with results from formulas. I have used an if condition to blank out many rows that are not needed. Trying to remove those rows using this does not seem to work.

  3. Howard says:

    Hello raggazzi! (Italian for ""guys and gals" :-)>
    First, I want to say that the ablebits.com website is outstanding; not only in terms of Excel expertise, but also in the clarity of presentation and "style" of written english. Bravo!
    I have one problem, however, with
    "How to extract a list of data ignoring blanks"
    from https://www.ablebits.com/office-addins-blog/2018/11/28/remove-blank-cells-excel/
    This is an elegant formula, but for me it only seems to work when I start it exactly as shown, at cell A1. If I attempt to move it, or even simply insert a row above, so that it begins on Row 2 at A2, it doesn't work. I've tried working with relative vs absolute addresses, etc. but no luck. Am I missing something?
    Thanks again,
    Howard

    • Hi Howard,

      Thank you for your kind words about our blog, it's a good incentive for us to keep it up :)

      Regarding the formula. In fact, in our example, the data starts in cell A2 (A1 is the column header and it's ignored by the formula). The logic is explained in the "How the formula works" section that comes right after the example. To adjust the formula for your data, be sure to change only "range" in the generic formula below, and remember to press Ctrl+Shift+Enter to complete it:

      IFERROR(INDEX(range, SMALL(IF(NOT(ISBLANK(range)), ROW($A$1:$A$10),""), ROW(A1))),"")

      For example, if your data starts in rows 3, i.e. range=$A$3:$A$12 (mind the absolute references!), the formula would go as follows:
      =IFERROR(INDEX($A$3:$A$12, SMALL(IF(NOT(ISBLANK($A$3:$A$12)), ROW($A$1:$A$10),""), ROW(A1))),"")

  4. Martin says:

    Hi, Thank you for the exceptional guide and I find it working for simpler tasks. However, I´m working on a larger project right now.

    The goal is to Extract data from a table, only if a certain name is printed. Example if Martin is printed, the idea is for the list to blank/NA() all the info that is not related to Martin.
    Example:
    Name:

    Peter Corn
    Martin Pizza
    Anna Orange
    Isak Pizza
    Fredrik Corn
    Martin Orange
    Peter Corn

    Name: Martin Result:
    Pizza
    Martin Pizza Orange

    Martin Orange

    The way I handle the problem is that as I use formulas to created the table I can´t use blanks, hence I replace it with NA() and isNA in the formula. There are 106 entries and only 5 of them are needed for the list. Hence it is 101 #N/A and 5 results with names.

    I Try to apply the formula as this (In swedish excel ;=,):
    {=IFERROR(INDEX($B$3:$B$98; SMALL(IF(NOT(ISNA($B$3:$B$98));ROW($A$1:$A$10);""); ROW(A1)));"")}

    Unfortunately, no result is shown. The only way I can get a result is if I put in a value at the top of the list, but that is only without the array function. Any ideas on how I can get it to work on this scale with formulas in the cells?

    Regards
    Martin

    • Martin says:

      The Example did not, unfortunately, translate well after I pressed send, but the point is only to get out the food chosen by Martin.

  5. Marjan says:

    Extremely helpful tutorial and explanations on How to extract a list of data ignoring blanks. However its not working for me. Not yet. The problem is that my data is dynamically changing almost every day and I have it organised as a table. In a certain column there are new data generated daily and also there are blanks every now and then. So how do I adapt the original formula in order to dynamically (automatically) extract a list of data ignoring blanks in daily changing (adding) data? I believe the solution to this problem would be very appreciated from a broader community. Thank you again for this tutorial and kindest regards!

    Marjan

  6. John D. Morris says:

    VERY Helpful!!!
    I got around Excel not counting a formula as blank because my actual interest is in whether there is a number in the checked cell -- else omit row. Exchanging the "ISBLANK" for "ISNUMBER" fits my need. As well, I created a variable end for the A1:... with an INDIRECT(ADDRESS( ...)) that uses a cell that knows how many rows there are as this changes with each use. Again, works great. Thanks!!!
    John

  7. Sonya says:

    I found that using the following tweaked formula helped me accomplish the results better if trying to remove the blank rows that contain formulas where the blank row actually equals "", which is not truly blank.

    {=IFERROR(INDEX(range, SMALL(IF(range"", ROW($A$1:$A$10),""), ROW(A1))),"")}

  8. Alex says:

    Hi,
    Your formula is works when the cell is really empty.
    But I make a cell empty (visually ONLY) by formula "=IF(A$2=ISBLANK(0);"";A$2".
    It means the cell is not really Empty :-)
    But I still need the result like in your example "How to extract a list of data ignoring blanks."
    Could you please help me this issuer?

  9. WARREN says:

    Hi there, I am attempting to use this function to remove blank cells but this only seems to work on the cells after the last cell containing data.
    i.e. all blank cells in between data are still there.
    Can you please advise?

  10. Martin Srebrov says:

    Hi, What formula could be used to sort items without blank cells, if the range is not vertical (A1:A10), but it is horizontal (A1:K1), for example?

  11. balasubramanian says:

    your presentation with screen shot is very easy to understand. im happy to learned something. Great and Good Job. Thanks

  12. ian says:

    I can't get this to work for me, unfortunately. Would I be able to send a screenshot of what I'm doing? Everything looks accurate in the formula but its returning a blank cell.

    Thanks

  13. Suchit Kumar says:

    Hey,
    I want to remove blank cell in excel.
    can you guide me how to do it?

  14. Al-Amin Hossain says:

    Hello!
    I wants to remove formula error(#N/A! or #Num!) cell or formula blank cell, although it's not blank but is it possible? if possible how to do please explain. Thank you.

  15. Joe says:

    When I do this, for some reason ROW(A1) always stays as ROW(A1) in every cell throughout the range, whereas it should be A2, A3, A4, etc. in each cell lower down in the array output range. Not sure what I'm doing wrong.

    • Hello Joe!
      If I understand your problem right, you are trying to copy =ROW(A1) down to the other cells in column A. Unfortunately, I can’t reproduce the issue, the formula is copied correctly. It does not change only if it looks like =ROW($A$1). Maybe, you are copying a formula, not a cell. Please describe in more detail what steps you take and we’ll try to find the cause of the issue.

  16. Thomas says:

    Mine doesn't seem to be working. It grabs the first cell item in the list, but when I drag the formula to the remaining cells below. They just come back blank.

    So in Cell C2: =IFERROR(INDEX(A2:A11, SMALL(IF(NOT(ISBLANK(range)), ROW($A$1:$A$10),""), ROW(A1))),"") And it does bring up "Peach"

    In Cell C3: =IFERROR(INDEX(A3:A12, SMALL(IF(NOT(ISBLANK(range)), ROW($A$1:$A$10),""), ROW(A2))),"") - Just comes up blank

    Cells C4 - C10 are all also blank. The only change in each cell is the last part ROW(A1 to A2... etc)

    • Hello Thomas!
      If I understand your task correctly, the following formula should work for you:

      =IFERROR(INDEX($A$2:$A$11, SMALL(IF(NOT(ISBLANK(range)), ROW($A$1:$A$10),””), ROW(A1))),””) And it does bring up “Peach”

      You can read more about absolute and relative cell references here.
      I hope this will help, otherwise please do not hesitate to contact me anytime.

  17. William Ng says:

    Thank you for sharing. I did the opposite lately. I have to ensure my cells are blanks while submit it for updates to database as it does not take null values.

  18. Megan says:

    The formula works great for the first cell but when I drag down the formula to the other cells I get a blank (if I have IFERROR) or a #NUM! if not. I'm not sure when I am doing wrong. Here is my formula.

    =IFERROR(INDEX($G$13:$G$30,SMALL(IF(NOT(ISBLANK($G$13:$G$30)),ROW($A$1:$A$18),""),ROW(A1))), "")
    All information is in G13:G30 and I am putting my formula in K13 for right now.
    Thanks!

  19. Aristides says:

    Hello.
    First, thank you for the great guide. I'm using the formula for extracting a data list while ignoring blanks.

    My formula:
    =IFERROR(INDEX(BlanksRange,
    SMALL(IF(NOT(ISBLANK(BlanksRange)),
    ROWS($A$1:$A$10),""),ROW(A1))),"")

    When I press Ctrl+Shift+Enter I get only blank cells. I removed the IFERROR to debug.

    My debugging formula:
    =INDEX(range, SMALL(IF(NOT(ISBLANK(range)), ROW($A$1:$A$10),""), ROW(A1)))

    After pressing Ctrl+Shift+Enter I get #N/A on all cells. I'm using a dynamic named range, but I got the same results with the hard referenced $B$2:$B$19 range.
    乁( •_• )ㄏ

    Any ideas?

    • Aristides says:

      The different name for the range on the debugging formula was a mistake here. It should say BlanksRange same as above.

    • Hello Aristides!
      There is a mistake in your formula. Instead of ROWS($A$1:$A$10), write ROW($A$1:$A$10).

      Your BlanksRange array should have 10 rows. If not, change the range of $A$1:$A$10.

      If the number of rows in your range changes, try this formula

      =IFERROR(INDEX(BlanksRange, SMALL(IF(NOT(ISBLANK(BlanksRange)), ROW(INDIRECT("1:" & ROWS(BlanksRange))), ""), ROW(A1))),"")

      Hope this is what you need.

      • Aristides says:

        Thank you for your response.

        I just rechecked the ROWS error was an error by me when typing on my cell phone. My range does change as I keep adding stuff to the main list. I was able to do it with this:

        {=IFERROR(INDEX(dynamicRange,
        SMALL(IF(LEN(dynamicRange),
        ROW(INDIRECT("1:"&ROWS(dynamicRange)))),
        ROW(A1)),1,"")}

        I was just trying to avoid using volatile functions, but I guess I have no choice on this one.

        Again, thanks a lot. 😃

  20. bahtısikikpiyade says:

    hi svetlana ; i want to cut out all blanks entire columns and a i want to equal 1 coulmn to another for example first column 14 67 87 34 second column is i you we they and (this is not a formula i create it in my brain) equal code ( = ) and i use it a first column A second column is B and i use it A=B .
    and computer learn it and went to ram and another column is
    C= i i i i i we we we we they they they and i use it this formula(this is a not a formula i create it in my brain but excel contain like a these but i dont know please you teach me ) and computer write 14 14 14 14 14 87 87 87 87 34 34 34 and computer wrtie them
    please teach these formula to me
    sorry for my english my english is bad

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