How to Swap Columns in Excel

how to swap columns in excel

Is the order of your Excel columns not working for you? It’s easy to switch them around. Learn how to swap columns in Excel here.

Spreadsheets are a great way to organize your data. However, you may find that when you’ve finally added all the data to your spreadsheet, you’re not happy with how it’s laid out. If only column B and column C could be the other way around.

The good news is that it’s not too tricky to move your columns about.  You can quickly get them exactly the way that you want them. In fact, there are a few ways of doing so.

If your spreadsheet layout isn’t quite how you want it to be, then learn how to swap columns in Excel below.

How to Swap Columns in Excel By Dragging

You can swap columns in Excel by selecting an entire column and dragging it into the position that you want. It is important to note before you try this that you should always hold down the Shift key when doing so.

If you don’t hold down the Shift key, the column you are moving may overwrite another column, and you’ll lose all the data that was in that column.

To swap columns in Excel by dragging:

  1. Select one of the columns that you want to move by clicking the Letter at the top of that column.
    excel column letter
  2. The entire column will highlight.
    excel selected column
  3. Hover the cursor over one edge of the column. The cursor should change to a four-headed arrow.
    excel arrows
  4. Hold down the Shift key.
  5. Click and drag to the place where you want the column to appear. You should see a thick line indicating where the column will insert.
    excel line
  6. Release the cursor and the Shift key, and the column should move to the desired location.
    excel moved column
  7. You can repeat the above steps as many times as you wish to get all of your columns in the correct positions.

How to Swap Columns in Excel by Cutting and Inserting

You can also swap columns by copying them and then pasting them in the positions that you want.

You could do this by copying and pasting your columns into some empty columns, and then pasting them back in the positions that you want, but there is a quicker way to do it that only involves copying one column.

This involves using the Insert Cut Cells tool.

To swap columns by cutting and inserting:

  1. Select the column that you want to cut and move to a different location by clicking the Letter at the top of the column.
    excel column letter
  2. Right-click and select Cut or use the shortcut Ctrl+X on Windows or Cmd+X on Mac.
    excel cut
  3. Right-click the Letter at the top of the column where you want the column you just cut to appear.
  4. Select Insert Cut Cells.
    excel insert cut cells
  5. The column you cut will be inserted into the column you selected, and the previous contents of that column will be shifted one column to the right.
    excel moved column
  6. You can repeat these steps as many times as you need to get your columns in the order that you want.

How to Swap Columns in Excel by Sorting

If you have multiple columns that you want to rearrange into a specific order, you can do so using the methods above, but you’ll most likely have to repeat the steps several times to get every column in the position that you want it.

When you want to rearrange multiple columns, it can be quicker to give each column a ranking of where you want it to appear in the line of columns, and then sort your columns based on these values.

To swap columns in Excel using sorting:

  1. Click the 1 at the start of the first row to select the top row of your spreadsheet.
    excel row one
  2. Right-click in this row and select Insert.
    excel insert
  3. A new empty row will appear at the top of the spreadsheet.
    excel new row
  4. In this row, give each column a value for the position that you want it to appear. The column that you want to appear first should be labeled with a one, and the highest number will indicate the rightmost column.
    excel ranked columns
  5. Select all of your data, including the top row.
    excel selected cells
  6. Click the Data menu.
    excel data menu
  7. In the ribbon, click the Sort button.
    excel sort button
  8. Click Options.
    excel sort options
  9. Select Sort Left To Right and click OK.
    excel sort left to right
  10. Click the Sort By drop-down.
    excel sort dropdown
  11. Select Row 1.
    excel row one
  12. Ensure the Sort On is set to Cell Values and Order is set to Smallest To Largest.
    excel sort on
  13. Click OK.
  14. The columns are now sorted based on the values in the top row, from smallest to biggest.
    excel sorted columns
  15. Now that your columns are in the correct order, you can delete the top row by right-clicking on the row number and selecting Delete.
    excel delete
  16. Your columns are now all in the right order.
    excel final column order

Take Control of Your Excel Spreadsheet

Learning how to swap columns in Excel ensures that you can get your data laid out exactly how you want it. You can quickly arrange your columns into the best position for your needs.

There are plenty of other ways to take control of Excel. You can learn how to cross-reference cells between Excel spreadsheets to save having to copy data back and forth between documents.  You can learn how to find merged cells in your Excel spreadsheets and remove them if necessary.

If you want to learn more, here are ten useful Excel tips you should know.

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