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Six choices for removing formatting and more in Excel

Excel has six different choices for removing content, formatting, comments or everything from cells.  Five are on the ribbon plus another hidden away. Plus three useful keyboard shortcuts, one obvious and two very obscure.

Home | Clear

On the right of the Home tab is a selection of five ‘Clear’ options under the little eraser icon.

Clear All – removes everything and leaves an empty cell.  There’s hidden keyboard shortcut too, see below.

Clear Formats – removes all formatting. Strictly speaking, switches the selection to Normal cell style.

Clear Contents – clears out the text or formula in the cell selection, leaving any formatting, comments or notes.  Shortcut is the humble Delete key

Clear Comments and Notes – removes all comments or notes only

Clear Hyperlinks – changes any hyperlinks with two choices:

Clear Hyperlinks only – removes the link but leaves the appearance unchanged.

Clear Hyperlinks and Formats – removes the link and changes the formatting back to plain text.

The Clear menu option Remove Hyperlinks will also remove the link and change to plain text.

Remove Conditional Formatting

Those five options should cover most ‘clear’ needs but overlooks one important place where formatting can happen – Conditional Formatting.

To remove Excel Conditional Formatting, go to Home | Conditional Formatting | Clear Rules

Clear Rules from Selected Cells

Clear Rules from Entire Sheet

Clear Rules from This Table

Clear Rules from This PivotTable

Keyboard shortcuts

Delete (Del) button will remove cell/selection contents, leaving the formatting.

There are two keyboard shortcuts for Clear all:

Alt then H, E, A


Alt then E , A , F

They might seem strange, even random, shortcuts but there’s a reason for both.

Alt then H, E, A

Alt then H, E, A is the Excel 2007 and later version which follows the tab and ribbon.

Press Alt then H for the Home tab, E for the Clear menu then A for Clear All.

Office shows you the available shortcut keys when you press Alt. As you can see, there are other letters to press for other Clear options.

Alt then E , A , F

Alt then E , A , F is a hold-over from Excel 2003 and previous versions that used the old toolbar and menu interface.  Excel 2007 and later retained many of the older keyboard shortcuts even though the menus had gone.

 Edit | Clear | All in Excel 2003 or Alt then E , A , F

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