How to use the fill handle to enter data in Excel

In this lesson, we'll take a look at one of the most powerful tools in Excel, the fill handle. The fill handle allows you to fill cells with data that originates from one or more source cells. This data can be a straight copy of the source cells, or, it can be based on a repeatable pattern.

Let's take a look.

The fill handle is a special box that appears in the lower right-hand corner of a selection. When you hover over the fill handle, you'll see the cursor change from the white selection cross to a thin black cross. When you see the black cross, click and drag the handle over the cells that you want to fill.

The fill handle can fill cells in four directions: up, down, right and left.

It also works when more than one cell is selected.

The fill handle will also recognize and repeat certain patterns. For example, you can use the fill handle to enter months and days of the week:

It will recognize abbreviations as well.

The fill handle will also recognize and repeat numbers that appear with text. It understands how to count using first, second, third and so forth:

It knows how to increment things like item numbers or product codes.

Finally, the fill handle  will increment dates automatically in both directions.

Author: 
Dave Bruns