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How To Use AutoFill on a Google Docs Spreadsheet [Quick Tips]

Have you ever wanted to fill an entire row or column with a series of values? If you’re an Excel user, you can do the same thing in Google Docs. If you haven’t used either, here’s the quick way to do it.

Just type in a couple of numbers in sequence… 1 2 3 works pretty well. You could also put them across a row instead of down a column.

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Then move your mouse over the dot in the corner until the pointer changes, then just drag it downward (or if you are filling a row instead, you can drag it to the right).

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Let go of the mouse, and your data will be automatically filled in.

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You could also make it skip by 1 instead, like 2 4 6 8, etc…

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If you want to get really fancy, you can use the tip from reader Andy in the comments below… fill in the cells with something else that would normally be in a set, like the days of the week, then drag the blue dot downward…

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And you’ll get a full list of days.

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The same thing works for other information, basically anything that can be powered with Google Sets, and you can force Google Spreadsheets to always use Google Sets for the information by holding down the Ctrl key.

For example, if you type in Ford, Honda, Toyota, and hold down the Ctrl key while dragging the dot down…

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It all works the same way. Sadly there’s no really advanced options like Excel has, but for most uses, this is good enough. Also, we’re aware this is a very simple tip for most of you, but we’re trying to help the beginners out as well!

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 04/28/10

Comments (8)

  1. Andy - The Digitante

    Try this:

    Type “Mercedes Benz, BMW, Nissan” in cells A4, A5, and A6. Then highlight them. Now hold the CTRL key and drag the corner down. It should fill in with a list of a bunch of car makers. This works for countries, rivers, and tons of other data.

  2. The Geek

    @Andy

    Wow! I didn’t know about that one!

  3. The Geek

    I’ve updated the article with the extra information. Thanks!

  4. Andy - The Digitante

    @The Geek
    No problem. It’s really handy to use with the “=GoogleLookup(entity,attribute)” function. You can pretty much do mass Google searches. Example: doing =GoogleLookup(A4,employees) will search the number of employees for the car companies looked up with the CTRL drag command.

    The big drawback is getting good data out of the queries. Its iffy at best.

  5. sam

    On a mac you hold option instead of control.

  6. Latest Business Updates

    the problem was resolved and Google Calendar was working fine with the reminders and schedules. We do not expect these kind of problems to hit back again from Google..

  7. Troy

    How do you get it to auto fill references to cells on another google doc. I understand how to to manually add a reference cell by cell…but I can’t get it to autofill sequentially…after I start the first couple. It just copies the same set over and over. For example: I can create a new spreadsheet called Sample, and then have it pull data from the cells B8 and B9 on my Master document, using these reference formulas
    =importRange(“toqOC2GhTZImeK4tthD8c6w&authkey=CN_fxYwI#gid=0″,”Sheet1!B8″)
    =importRange(“toqOC2GhTZImeK4tthD8c6w&authkey=CN_fxYwI#gid=0″,”Sheet1!B9″)

    But when I try to autofill the rest of the cells…instead of incrementing B10, B11, B12, etc.
    It just repeats the same two formulas.

    Other than having to manually enter the formulas by hand …the ability to link data between documents is a really useful feature.

  8. Lou

    It seems very limited in what it can do. It won’t auto sequence a simple set such as; 010-0701, 010-0702, 010-0703, 010-0704. All it does is repeat the numbers I already entered. I have 500 number to sequence and it’s like pulling teeth. It shouldn’t be this difficult. If I’m missing something, I sure would appreciate the help. Thanks!

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