Navigation Columns in Excel

Great for long reports

When working in long spreadsheets it can be a good idea to use a navigation column to make it easier to move between the different sections.

A navigation column sounds more impressive than it is, but it is effective in speeding up movement between sections on a long sheet. You can use more than one column depending on the structure you are using.

As a simple example, examine the structure below.

Let’s say these sections were spread down the sheet.

We can insert a column on the left to make navigating to these sections quicker.

I have added an x to the left of each section.

When you have a cell selected in column A you can quickly move down to the next section by pressing Ctrl + down arrow. Use Ctrl + up arrow to move up to the next section.

Multiple columns

Another way to achieve this is by using multiple columns when setting up the sheet – see different structure below.

This uses columns for indenting. To move between the Sales rows you can click in column B and use the Ctrl key shortcuts to move up and down.

Mouse Shortcut

There is a little-known mouse shortcut which works like the Ctrl key shortcuts.

Point to the bottom border of a cell – see image below – and get the arrow icon. Always point to the middle of the border.

When you see that icon double click it and it works like the Ctrl + down arrow shortcut.

The difference with the mouse technique is that it stops in the cell before the entry, rather than on the entry. This technique is faster than using the keyboard.

The double-click shortcut works in all four directions using the four different borders.

WARNING:

Make sure YOU DON’T HAVE the Fill Handle selected when you double click. The Fill Handle is shown below.

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