Convert Excel Columns to Rows for Easier Analysis

Ever found yourself wishing you could easily flip your Excel data from columns to rows (or vice versa)? This common task can trip up even experienced Excel users. In this tutorial, I’ll share a few simple methods on how to convert columns to rows in Microsoft Excel, helping you analyze your spreadsheets with greater flexibility. (Includes downloadable practice file.)

Excel Spreadsheet Layout Issue

I was recently given a large Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that contained vendor evaluation information. The information was useful, but I couldn’t use tools like Auto Filter because of the way the data was organized. I would also have issues if I needed to import the source table into a database. A simple example is shown below.

Excel sheet before converting columns to rows.
Excel Spreadsheet Needing to Swap Columns & Rows

Instead, I want to have the Company names displayed vertically in Column A and the Data Attributes displayed horizontally in Row 1. This would make it easier for me to do the analysis. For example, I can’t easily filter for California vendors with the original table.

What is Excel’s Transpose Function

In simple terms, the transpose feature changes your columns’ orientation (vertical range) and rows (horizontal range). My original data rows would become columns, and my columns would become rows. So this fixes my layout problem above without me having to retype my original data. And the system would adjust for column labels.

The transpose function is pretty versatile. For example, you can use the feature in Excel formulas or with paste options. However, there are some differences based on which method you use.

Convert Columns to Rows Using Paste Special

The steps outlined below were done using Microsoft Office 365, but recent Microsoft Excel versions will work.

  1. Open the spreadsheet you need to change. You may also download the example sheet at the end of this tutorial.
  2. Click the first cell in your cell range, such as A1.
  3. Shift-click the last cell of the range. Your data set should be highlighted.
  4. From the Home tab, select Copy or type Ctrl + c.
Copy existing Excel data range.
Copying the current Excel data
  1. Select the new cell where you would like to copy your transposed data.
  2. Right-click in that cell and select the Transpose icon from the Paste Options.
Selecting Transpose icon from Paste Options.
Choose the Transpose option

The data layout changes as you hover over the Paste options.

You should now see Excel switched the columns and rows. You can resize your columns to suit your needs.

These two data sets are independent. You can delete cells from the top set, and it will not impact the transposed set.

Transposed data under original.
Transposed data under original.

When using this method, your original formatting is maintained. For example, if I added a yellow background to my original cells B1:G1, the same background color would be applied. The same is true if I used red text on cell E:5.

Use Transpose Function in a Formula

As I mentioned, Excel has multiple ways for you to switch columns to rows or vice versa. This second way utilizes a formula and array. The result is the same, except your original data and the new transposed data are linked. As a result, you may lose some of your original formatting. For example, colored text and styles came across, but not cell fill colors.

  1. Open your Excel sheet.
  2. Click a blank cell where you want your converted data. I’m using A7.
  3. Type =transpose.
Start of transpose formula in cell A7.
Typing transpose formula

Notice how Excel provides a tooltip showing for Transpose – “Converts a vertical range of cells to a horizontal range and vice versa“.

  1. Finish the formula by adding a ( and highlighting the Excel cell range we wish to swap.
  2. Type ) to close the range.
Highlighted columns and rows to transpose.
Transpose formula and range
  1. Press Enter.

If you’re not using Microsoft 365, you’ll probably need to press CTRL + SHIFT + Enter

Differences in Excel’s Transpose Options

While these two methods produce similar results, there are differences. In the first paste method, whatever action I take on a cell is independent of the transposed version. I could delete the original values, and nothing would happen to the columns I swapped.

In contrast, the Transpose formula version is tethered to the original data. So, for example, if I change the value in B2 from 1200 to 1500, the new value will automatically update in B8. However, the reverse isn’t true. If I change any transposed cells, the original set will not change. Instead, I will get a #SPILL error , and my transposed data will disappear.

#SPILL error and missing data
Error when changing transposed cell

Transpose Formula & Blank Cells

Another difference with the Transpose formula is that it will convert blank cells to “0”s.

Transposed section with highlighted 0 cells.
Transpose converted blanks to 0’s

The fix for this quirk is to use an Excel IF statement in the formula that keeps the blank cells as blanks. You can hover over the box below to copy the transpose formula.


Alternatively, you could search and replace the zeros.

Now that we’ve shown you how to transpose data in Excel, try playing around with the practice worksheet below. You’ll be swapping your rows and columns in Excel in no time. And while you likely work with multiple rows, you can convert one Excel column to a row.

Show Me How Video

Click the image below for a short video showing how to switch columns and rows without a formula.

Key Points & Takeaways

  • The Excel Transpose function can switch the orientation of rows and columns without needing to retype the data.
  • Use the Transpose feature in Excel formulas or with paste options. Be aware that there are differences based on the method used.
  • When using the Transpose function in a formula, type “=transpose”, add a parenthesis, highlight the cell range to swap, then close the range with a parenthesis and press Enter.
  • Remember the differences between the two Transpose options: the Paste Special method creates independent data sets, while the Transpose formula version is linked to the original data.

Are you ready to try these solutions? Click the practice file download button below and try your newfound knowledge. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you master this essential Microsoft Excel skill.

Tutorial Resources