Excel Limitations: Struggles with Multiple Selection Actions

Are you trying to perform actions on multiple selections in Excel only to find out it’s not working? Well, you’re not alone. Excel has its limitations, and one of them is that certain actions can’t be performed on multiple selections. But don’t worry, let’s break down what you can do about it.

Excel Limitations: When Actions Won’t Work on Multiple Selections

Sometimes, you may need to perform the same action on multiple parts of an Excel spreadsheet. For example, you might want to format different sections the same way or copy a formula across non-adjacent cells. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll go over how to work around some of Excel’s limitations regarding multiple selections.

Step 1: Identify the action you want to perform

Identify the action you cannot perform on multiple selections.

There are some actions in Excel that, unfortunately, you cannot perform on non-adjacent cells or ranges. These include merging cells, filling formulas, and applying conditional formatting. If you’ve tried to do one of these actions and it didn’t work, it’s probably because of this limitation.

Step 2: Use workarounds to achieve a similar result

Find alternative ways to achieve the same result for your data.

To work around this limitation, you might need to perform the action multiple times on each range individually or look for an Excel feature that can apply to all ranges at once, like Styles or Themes for formatting. Another workaround is to use VBA macros to automate repetitive tasks across multiple selections.

After completing these actions, you will have found a way to apply the changes you want to different parts of your spreadsheet, even though Excel doesn’t allow you to do it in one go. It may take a little more time and creativity, but it’s not impossible.

Tips for Working with Excel Limitations

Here are some handy tips to keep in mind when working with multiple selections in Excel:

  • Always check if the action you want to perform is supported for multiple selections before trying it out.
  • Use the ‘Format Painter’ tool to quickly apply formatting to non-adjacent cells.
  • Utilize ‘Styles’ to apply consistent formatting across different parts of your worksheet.
  • Consider creating a VBA macro if you frequently need to perform a specific action on multiple selections.
  • Remember that some actions, like sorting and filtering, can only be done on one range of cells at a time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I merge non-adjacent cells in Excel?

No, Excel does not allow you to merge non-adjacent cells. You’ll have to merge each section separately.

Why won’t Excel let me copy a formula to non-adjacent cells?

Excel restricts this function to ensure data integrity and to avoid potential errors in the spreadsheet.

Can I apply conditional formatting to multiple selections?

Conditional formatting can be applied to non-adjacent cells, but it must be done individually for each range.

Is there a way to automate actions on multiple selections in Excel?

Yes, you can write VBA macros to automate repetitive tasks on multiple selections.

What should I do if I need to apply an action to a large number of non-adjacent selections?

Consider rearranging your data so that the cells are adjacent, perform the action, and then return the data to its original layout.


  1. Identify the action you want to perform.
  2. Use workarounds to achieve a similar result.


Navigating through Excel’s limitations can be frustrating, especially when it comes to actions on multiple selections. But with a little patience and some creative problem-solving, you can find ways to get the job done. Whether it’s using the Format Painter, Styles, or diving into the world of VBA macros, there’s usually a workaround to help you achieve your desired result. Remember to always test these methods on a small part of your data first to ensure it works as expected. And if you ever get stuck, don’t hesitate to seek out resources or ask for help from the Excel community. Excel limitations don’t have to be roadblocks; they can be opportunities to learn new techniques and improve your spreadsheet skills. So go ahead, give these tips a try, and take control of your Excel actions on multiple selections.