Excel's Newest Super Hero - Flash Fill

Flash Fill Feature

This tip is for use as of Excel 2013 version or later...


With the launch of the 2013 version of Excel, a new super hero was born:  Flash Fill.  This additional tool brings a whole new level of intuitive assistance when you need to separate cell data or combine multiple cells into another cell.  Flash Fill is the bigger, badder cousin to the Auto Fill handle we have come to know and love, and works almost like magic by analyzing what you type into a given cell to pick up on the adjacent columns for patterns by suggesting a fill down option accordingly.

  1. Create in adjacent column(s) a data list that becomes your source data (where a pattern is established).
  2. In your destination column, begin at the top by typing in how the pattern should be followed (see picture for Full Names of Presidents / Initials as an example). 
  3. Press [ENTER] to then type a second cell below the first to establish a true pattern.  At this point you should see a shadow box dimly appear with Flash Fill "suggested" fill options.
  4. Either press [ENTER] to invoke the remaining Flash Fill pattern OR click the Auto Fill handle to copy down the suggested pattern (use the Smart Tag option if necessary to select Flash Fill option) OR click the Flash Fill button on the Home Tab, Edit Group, under Fill options.