Selecting Cells in Excel using the F8 key

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F8 – Extend selection

We always want to make sure, that proper ranges are selected in Excel. A wrong selection, as we already know, can lead to costly mistakes. To avoid this kind of unpleasant situation, it is paramount that we can make precise and quick selections in Excel. Microsoft Excel team came up with a key that helps you with selections. That key is F8. What does it do? Let’s take a look at an example.

Suppose we want to sum up the Apples column. With help from the good old CTRL + SHIFT + Arrow key, we select data all the way until the next empty cell, but that won’t do. Anyway, let’s start our formula inside cell E8 =SUM(

Let’s focus our attention on the Apples column. Click on Cell B2.

Once selected, press F8. In the bottom left corner (in the status bar), you should see something like this.

Check if you see the Extend Selection sign. If you do, just click on the last cell with data (B10). Excel literally extended the selection for us, so we made sure that all the data is being summed up. You should think of this as if you were holding the Shift key while clicking on the last cell. Now all you need in your formula is a closing bracket and a satisfying press of the Enter key.

Shift + F8 – Add or Remove Selection

This shortcut is meant for selecting non-adjacent cells (cells that do not touch each other). Let’s dive directly into it.

Suppose we would like to sum up data occurring on dates from 1st to 3rd and from 9th to 12th of May. SUMIFS could do the job but it would be like taking an airplane for a 2-mile trip. A simple SUM function could solve it if you could only make the right selection of data. Let’s look at how we select data using the SHIFT + F8 key combination.

So, SHIFT + F8 allows us to select non-adjacent cells. As in our previous example, make sure you see the text in the status bar only this time it should read  “Add or Remove Selection”.

And how does it work with the SUM function? Let’s take a look.


Note: Good practice is to select the first part of the range you want to sum up, and press SHIFT + F8 afterward. As in other Excel operations, you can cancel this one by pressing the ESC key or just simply by scrolling down.

Brilliant, right? Now it’s YOUR TURN TO EXCEL.