Let’s examine three ways to transpose data in Excel.

First, what does it mean to “transpose data”?  Transposing data is where the data in the rows are turned into columns, and the data in the columns is turned into rows.

Our first example will result in a static solution (meaning the transposed data will not update if the original data changes).  The second and third examples will be dynamic.

Below is an image of our data from the downloadable sample file (see download link below)

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Method #1 – Using Copy/Paste (static)

Step 1: Select the data (A3:B14) and press CTRL-C or the Copy button.

Step 2: Select the destination cell that will serve as the upper-left corner of the transposed data (D3) and right mouse click and select Paste Special.

Check the box labeled Transpose and click OK.

NOTE: An alternative to this is to select the data and click Copy, click the destination cell, then click the lower part of the Paste button and click the Transpose.

The downside to this method is that it is not dynamic.  If data is changed in the original “vertical” data set, the corresponding entry in the “horizontal” data set will not reflect the change.

Method #2 – Using the Transpose function (dynamic)

Step 1: Select cell D3 and enter the following formula:


Notice that the formula returns a #VALUE! error.

The reason for this is because the formula is attempting to display all the data from the selected range within a single cell.  If we edit the TRANSPOSE function and click at the end of the formula, we can press F9 to see that the results are being collected and stored in the response.

TRANSPOSE is an array formula, and because of this, we need to select beforehand a range of cells that will serve as a landing zone for all the possible answers.  This will require a small bit of planning on our part before we write the formula.

Step 1 (revised): Highlight a range of cells that you believe can support the returned values (i.e. D3:M4).

Step 2: Enter the formula below (do NOT hit ENTER!!!):


Step 3: Press CTRL-Shift-Enter

As we can see, we did not select enough cells to support the returned data.  If we use the Fill Series handle to drag the array formula from column M to column O, the additional cells have data, but they are not arranged properly.

To solve this issue:

  1. select ALL the original cells that held the TRANSPOSE function (D3:O4) and click in the formula bar to return to edit mode.
  2. Press CTRL-Shift-Enter to update the TRANSPOSE array formula.

Because this is a formula, when data changes in the original “vertical” list, we see the same change to data in the “horizontal” list.

Method #3 – Simple cell references (dynamic)

When you refer (or point) a cell to another cell, the data from the original cell is reflected in the referencing cell (ex: if cell B1 points to cell A1, the contents of A1 will be displayed in cell B1.)

In our sample file, we can have cell D4 point to cell A3, and cell E4 point to cell A4, etc…

This may work in a VERY small data set, but in larger data sets, this becomes impractical to construct in this method.

One idea is to use the Fill Series tool to replicate the original “=A3” formula and have the cell references update relatively.  We can’t use the Fill Series handle to fill across, because the references move in the wrong direction.

A clever trick to overcome this Fill Series limitation is to type the formula as text.

Step 1: Instead of typing the equals sign, we will enter some homemade prefix (like your initials) and then follow the prefix with the cell address you want to repeat.

Cell D4 –> lgA3

Cell D5 –> lgB3

Step 2: Select cells D4:D5 and drag the Fill Series handle to the right to column O.

Observe that the numbers incremented in the proper direction.

Step 3: We will perform a Find/Replace (CTRL-H) and find our initials (“lg”) and replace with an equals sign (“=”) {no double quotes in either entry}.

The original entries (with prefixes) have been converted to formulas.

We now have a list of correct references that also behave dynamically.

We can change the data in the “vertical” list and see a reflection of that change in the “horizontal” list.

Additional Resources

For an interesting strategy for transforming data, be sure to check out the video link below:

Quick Excel Trick to Unstack Data from One Column to Multiple Columns

Leila Gharani

I'm a 6x Microsoft MVP with over 15 years of experience implementing and professionals on Management Information Systems of different sizes and nature.

My background is Masters in Economics, Economist, Consultant, Oracle HFM Accounting Systems Expert, SAP BW Project Manager. My passion is teaching, experimenting and sharing. I am also addicted to learning and enjoy taking online courses on a variety of topics.