Excel Data and Formula Entry Tips

Speeding up data entry

There are number of shortcuts you can use to speed up your data and formula entry in Excel.

Number keypad

Use the number keypad on the right of the keyboard. This has all the numbers, as well as most of the formula operators (+  * –  /), you need to create formulas. It also has a large Enter key. The numbers are laid out like a calculator and so are easy to use.

Plus sign

Start formulas with the plus sign. Instead of using the = symbol to start your formula you can also use the plus key. There is a large plus key on the far right of the keyboard. This is easier and quicker to press than the = sign, which is tucked away in the middle of the keyboard. Excel will insert the = sign for you after you enter the formula.

Last bracket

If you are entering a function and have supplied all the arguments then you don’t need to enter the final bracket. Excel will do it after your enter the formula. If you have missed an argument, a dialog will display warning you of the error. Sometimes Excel will still insert the bracket, but it will display a dialog to confirm its placement.

Multiple entries

If you need to enter the same value in multiple cells, rather than entering it one cell and copying and pasting, you can first select the range. With the range is selected, enter the value and hold the Ctrl key down and press Enter. This will populate the same entry in all selected cells. This is handy for entering zeroes in ranges. Note: You can use the Ctrl key to select multiple ranges using the mouse. See blog post with video.

Today’s date

To enter today’s date in a cell use Ctrl + ; (Ctrl + semi-colon) this is an entry, not a formula, so it won’t change.

Current time

To enter the current time in a cell use Ctrl + Shift + : (Ctrl + Shift + colon). This is also an entry not a formula.

Other shortcuts

To enter the entry from the cell above use Ctrl + ‘ (Ctrl + single inverted comma) see also last week’s blog post.

To navigate around a sheet hold the Ctrl key down and press the arrows keys. You will move around in large jumps.

Ctrl + Home will always take you to the top left of the sheet.

Ctrl + Page Down (activate sheet right) and Ctrl + Page Up (activate sheet left) will move between sheets.

To insert a line break within a cell press Alt + Enter after typing the entry, press Enter when complete. Other blog post

To insert the SUM function in a cell use Alt + =.


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