How to Use AutoFill in Excel

By Ruri Ranbe

The AutoFill tool in Microsoft Excel can copy the contents of a cell into an adjacent cell, fill cells with a preset series or list, and automatically populate text in a cell based on data stored in other cells. The fill handle tool, which appears each time you click a cell or set of cells, automatically populates cell values when you drag it across a column, row or block cells.

AutoFill Adjacent Cells

Step 1

Click the cell you want to copy. Click the bottom-right hand corner of the cell.

Step 2

Drag the mouse pointer to the adjacent cell or cells to AutoFill the contents of the original cell. Click the box that appears next to the last cell in the column or row.

Step 3

Click "Copy Cells," "Fill Formatting Only" or "Fill Without Formatting" from the options, depending on your preferences.

AutoFill a Series

Step 1

Enter the first number or word for a series of numbers or dates into the blank cell. Click the next cell in the column or row, then enter the second number or word in the series.

Step 2

Click the first cell, then drag the mouse to the second cell while holding down the left mouse button.

Step 3

Click the bottom-right hand corner of the cell and drag the pointer to the adjacent cells to auto-populate the series. For example, if you've entered "Monday" and "Tuesday" into the first and second cells, respectively, dragging the mouse to the seventh cell in the column will AutoFill the rest of the days of the week into cells 3 through 7.

Tips & Warnings

  • To use AutoFill to automatically fill in a cell value based on other cell data, enter the first few characters of the value into the empty cell. Excel will offer a suggestion based on your text. Press "Enter" to confirm Excel's suggestion.