Google Sheets offers several methods for moving columns around on a spreadsheet. It’s common to come back to data and decide the way you organized it before no longer makes the most sense.
Moving columns is a practical way to make a spreadsheet more presentable.
For example, you may have a spreadsheet like this that contains information about registered users on your website:
Hypothetically speaking, you may want to see if there’s a trend with “car make” and what “city” a person lives in, but the “shirt size” column is between the two.
So to make it easier to read, you may want to put those two columns next to each other.
The following three processes explain how to move a column in Google Sheets. Note that all three methods work for moving one or multiple columns at a time.
However, if you’re moving multiple columns at the same time they need to be physically next to each other on the spreadsheet.
Non-consecutive columns will not move together, Google Sheets will just move the last selected column.
Move a Column with Drag
The drag and drop method is an effective way to move columns around a Google Sheet regardless of how many columns it has. However, this method can get difficult to control when you’re moving a column across multiple screen scrolls worth of columns.
- Select one or more columns you want to move. Do this by left-clicking on the column’s header letter. The example below shows highlighting column E.
- Leave the mouse cursor over the column letters until it turns into a hand icon.
- After about a second the hand icon will appear, now left-click on the letter and use the guide bar to select the columns you want to insert the selection between. The example shows moving column E between columns C and D.
Google Sheets has moved the “car make” from column E to column D and all columns to its right have been moved over accordingly.
If you’re moving a column just one column to the right or to the left, it like you have swapped the two columns by inter-changing the positions.
Move a Column with the Move Left/Move Right Method
Google Sheets features a menu option that nudges a column selection one to the left or one to the right. This method is ideal for minor adjustments.
- Select one or more columns. The example shows selecting columns D, E, and F.
- Open the “Edit” menu and select “Move column(s) left” or “Move column(s) right.”
The following example demonstrates what happens when choosing “Move columns right.” Now columns D, E, and F all move to the right of column G. Because of the shift, column G is now column D.
Google Sheets automatically shifts the columns back over instead of creating whitespace.
Move a Column with Cut, Insert, and Paste
The “drag” and “move” methods don’t work as well when dealing with spreadsheets that have a substantial amount of columns. They can either be difficult to track or take a long time to accomplish a move across several columns.
Using the “Cut,” “Insert,” and “Paste” commands to move a column work well when the other methods are cumbersome.
- Select one or more columns you want to move. The example shows selecting column C.
- Next, apply “Cut” to the column by opening the “Edit” menu and selecting the “Cut” command. Alternatively, you can use the “Ctrl+X” keyboard shortcut (“CMD+X” on Mac).
- Click on a destination column header next to where you want to move the selected column. The example shows selecting column G.
- Right-click on the selection and choose “Insert # left” or “Insert # right” in the direction you want to move the column relative to the destination column. The example shows choosing “Insert 1 left.”
- Google Sheets will automatically highlight the new column. Open the “Edit” menu and select “Paste” to move the “cut” column into the “new” column. Alternatively, use the “Ctrl+V” shortcut (“CMD+V on Mac).
- The original column you “cut” from is now blank. You can remove it by right-clicking on the blank column and choosing the “Delete column” option from the pop-up list.
The above three methods offer flexible techniques for moving columns around in Google Sheets.
Following these steps makes sure you’re moving all of a column’s contents so you can avoid splitting cells and messing up spreadsheets.
I hope you find the methods in this tutorial helpful!
Sumit is a Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel Expert. He provides spreadsheet training to corporates and has been awarded the prestigious Excel MVP award by Microsoft for his contributions in sharing his Excel knowledge and helping people.