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Excel filter not working after a certain row

You have switched on your data filter and tried to use it but you find that the Excel filter is not working after a certain row. The main cause will be how you set it up and applies to any Excel tool which ‘guesses’ what you want to include.

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Filter’s source data- guess or specific

Because of how intuitive Excel is, users often let Excel ‘guess’ what should be included in a filter. In the below spreadsheet we can click on cell A2 and click on the DATA ribbon and click Filter. Excel knows enough to realise you want to include columns A to F and it looks like your database is covered.

Excel filter not working

But when you run a filter you will see that it does not seem to include what you expected. So below in column B we filtered on 31 Aug. You can see it finds two, but note that below it there is other data and other 31 Aug’s. The clue of the problem is in the red box. Note that the row numbers have turned blue. This means that those rows are part of the filter. All the other row numbers are black and means they are not part of the filter. So in this case, after a certain row, the filter does not include them.

Excel filter not working

Excel automatically only includes rows up to the first blank

Unless you specifically tell Excel what to look at (highlight the relevant cells), Excel will only include rows up to the first blank it finds. So in the above image you will note that row 18, where the number 18 is coloured black, is the first row not in the filter as it is a blank row.

Always specify what Excel must look at

It is best practice to always specify exactly what Excel should look at, even if you think there are no blanks. It is easy for a blank to be in row 10 000 so you wouldn’t notice it, but Excel will stop including the rows below in the filter.

As shown below, make it a habit of highlighting all the rows you want to include (for a quick way to do this look at the navigating Excel cells pages) and then switch the Filter on.

Excel filter not working

Easy way to switch filter off and back onto the correct rows

The easiest way to correct this mistake is, even if the filter is already on,

  • highlight all the cells you want to include,
  • click the filter button (it will switch it off), then
  • immediately click it again to switch it on.

This same issue occurs with Pivot Tables. Don’t allow Excel to guess. Specify the cells to include in any Excel tool, then click the relevant button.

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