Excel: Remove All Blank Rows in a Document

There are two things that are the kryptonite in an otherwise perfect Excel document: merged cells and blank rows. We have already tackled merged cells, so today I want to focus on blank rows. People commonly insert blank rows for stylistic reasons, but here’s the thing: don’t. It may feel like you are making your document more readable, but really you are making it less functional. Let’s take a look.

The Trouble with Blank Rows

If you are plagued by blank rows in your documents, you may be experiencing a variety of issues. Look at the example below… this is the concert promoter example we use in our PivotTables session.

In this scenario, however, the concert promoter has decided that it would help him/her visually to separate out each event with a blank row.

Blank rows

So, what’s the problem? For one, when Excel arrives at a blank row, it thinks you have finished your thought. This manifests in many inconveniences. For instance:

AutoFill Issues

What if we decide to insert a formula in a subsequent column? We learn about utilizing AutoFill with formulas in Advanced Formulas, so we hover our mouse in the lower right until we see the AutoFill Handle and double click…

Auto fill handle

… Only to find that Excel stops at the blank row. In a document with 5,000 rows and numerous blank rows, you probably don’t want to have to manually autofill every time you insert a new formula…

Autofill stops at blank rows

PivotTables and Tables

How about creation of Tables and PivotTables? We know to put our cursor in the middle of the data and let Excel select all the information that will create our PivotTable or Table, but look what happens when we have a blank row… the Table selection will stop just shy of that first blank row. And even if you override this, you are stuck with numerous “blank” results. Not fun.

Tables stop before blank rows

Other Examples

Sort and Filter, chart creation, and many more features will just not work properly with blank rows. When you really want to work with your data, you will discover so many more examples. Usually people call me at this point, thinking they are “bad at Excel,” when really they are doing everything right to create a PivotTable, or sort data, it is just those blank rows getting in their way.

So now that you want to remove all the blank rows in your document, what should you do?

Removing All Blank Rows

Of course, you could highlight each row by hand and delete them one by one, but an example that came up last week was a person with a 2000 row document that contained numerous blank rows sprinkled throughout. If this is the case for you, here is how you can remove all blank rows in your document in one fell swoop:

1. Select all the data in your document. There are several ways to do this, but one quick was is to click on the Select All button: the triangle above your first row (pictured below).

Select all

2. On your Home tab, Editing group, select the Find & Select dropdown. Select Go To Special

Find and Select, got to special

3. In the Go To Special screen, select the radio button next to Blanks. Press OK.

Blanks selected

4. This will highlight all your blank rows. Quick note: if you see too much content selected, hold down your Ctrl key and click to deselect. For instance, sometimes this feature will select the blank column to the right of your data, and you can deselect the entire column of data this way (Ctrl + select column).

Blank rows highlighted

5. With these blank rows selected, go to the Home tab, Cells group. Select the Delete dropdown, and select Delete Sheet Rows.

Delete Sheet Rows

All the selected blank rows will be deleted. So much better! You can now enjoy a happy and carefree life, now that you are free from the restrictions of blank rows!

Blank rows gone


Will this save you some trouble in any of your documents? I would love to hear how you use this!

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our newest Power Users! For the full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit: wichita.edu/poweruser

Faye O’Reilly
(Picture coming soon!)

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