In pretty much every software application on the planet, if you double-click on a word, it will select just the word, not all the surrounding punctuation. Excel doesn't work this way. If you select a word in Excel, chances are, it will select a lot more than just that word.

It also depends whether the word is part of a formula or just regular text. Check out the table below. If a word is not part of a formula, it will select the punctuation mark/symbol every time except for hyphen/dash. If the word comes after an equal sign, the rules are very different.

What happens when you double-click Word?
        Selects            Selects
         Word               Word
Phrase   Only     Phrase    Only
Word~             =Word~     
Word`             =Word`     
Word#             =Word#     
Word$             =Word$     
Word%             =Word%     
Word^             =Word^     Y
Word&             =Word&     Y
Word*             =Word*     Y
Word(             =Word(     Y
Word)             =Word)     Y
Word-     Y       =Word-     Y
Word_             =Word_     
Word+             =Word+     Y
Word=             =Word=     Y
Word|             =Word|     Y
Word\             =Word\     
Word.             =Word.     
Word,             =Word,     Y
Word<             =Word<     Y
Word>             =Word>     Y
Word?             =Word?     
Word/             =Word/     Y
Word"             =Word"     
Word'             =Word'     
Word:             =Word:     Y
Word;             =Word;     Y

This is completely non-standard behavior, and it's almost never what I want (and even if it were, I probably would forget and just select it by hand). One of the worst examples to me is when I'm trying to select a word between quotation marks, and it selects the the quotation marks as well.

So, I ask, probably helplessly, is there any way to turn this off?

Also, just out of curiosity, does anyone find these unusual selection rules useful?

I just submitted a feature request to Microsoft:

I would like the following option to be added to Excel: "Double-clicking on a word selects only the word". With pretty much every Windows software application on the planet, you double-click a word and it selects that word. It doesn't select the quotation marks or any of the punctuation surrounding the word, it just selects the word. For some reason, Excel violates this standard and often selects punctuation along with the word. This is almost never the behavior I'm expecting or want, and I would like to be able to turn this weird implementation off. Please consider offering this feature for the next release of Excel. Thank you.

  • Did you create the table? If you did, you have my respect :)!
    – alex
    Sep 8, 2009 at 6:16
  • Guilty :) It took me 10+ years of annoyance to finally get around to it.
    – devuxer
    Sep 8, 2009 at 6:20
  • Respect for taking the time to compile the table, pity for the fact you spent all that time on it!
    – Lunatik
    Sep 8, 2009 at 7:30

1 Answer 1


Well, I'm afraid the behavior is hardwired into Excel. It's not something you can change. Word has a different behavior as well (try double clicking on a word with an underscore (_) in the middle in Word and in notepad and observe the difference).

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