Filling Series

In many cases, we will want to fill in a series of numbers in a column, such as in the following examples:

 
A
1
0
2
2
3
4
4
6
5
8
 
A
1
-2.2
2
-2.1
3
-2.0
4
-1.9
5
-1.8
 
A
1
40
2
35
3
30
4
25
5
20

In the first case, we start at zero and increase in increments (which we'll call step value) of 2. In the second, we start at -2.2 and use a step value of 0.1. In the last case, we start at 40 and have a step value of -5. (It's OK to go backwards by having a negative step value!)

There are two fairly easy ways to create these series: use Edit->Fill Series, or dragging down.

Edit->Fill Series

Fill Series is a menu option under the Edit Menu. To use it:

  1. Click on the first cell that you want the series to appear in, and enter the first value in the series.
  2. Pull down the Edit menu to find the Fill submenu. Select "Series" from the Fill submenu.
  3. You will see the Fill Series dialog box, like the one shown below.

    If you want the series to go down a column (like the examples above), select Series in Columns. Leave "Linear" selected under "Type". (We will always use linear series like the examples above.)
    Fill in the Step Value (how much distance there should be between entries), and the Stop Value (the last entry you want.)
  4. Click "OK", and Excel will fill in the series.

For example, to get the first example at top which has 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8, we would start by entering 0 in the first cell, then in the dialog box enter a Step Value of 2, and a Stop Value of 8.

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Dragging Down

You can also fill in a series without opening the dialog box, by dragging down. To do this:

  1. Enter the correct values in the first two cells.
  2. Select the first two cells.
  3. Place the cursor at the bottom right hand corner of the last cell. It will become a thin cross.
  4. Click and drag down as far as you want. The current value of the fill will appear to the right of your cursor, so you know when you can stop

The diagram below indicates what this looks like for our 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 example:

Fill in the first two terms, and select both of them. Notice the fill handle in the bottom right corner of the selection box. When you move over the fill handle, the cursor becomes a filled-in cross. Drag the fill handle down. As you drag, Excel will tell you what the current entry is in a small box to the right, as in this picture. We're at 8, so we're ready to stop. We release the fill handle, and Excel fills in the values. We're done!

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