Make your headings bold.
This tip applies to tables and to the structures you use for charts.
Excel looks for the bold format when it reviews tables and layouts to figure out if your table has a headings row.
You can use Ctrl + Shift + L to add or remove the filter icons to a data table. There is also an icon on Data ribbon tab.
This will work more reliably if the headings are bold.
I use the following keyboard combination on the top left corner of the table.
Ctrl + Shift + right arrow (this selects all the headings)
Ctrl + b (this applies bold to the headings)
Ctrl + Shift + L (to turn on filters)
This combination can be done very quickly.
You can just use Ctrl + Shift + L within the table, but sometimes this applies the filter to the wrong row.
Press Enter and Stay in Current Cell
A trick to stay in the cell you are editing is to hold the Ctrl key down when you press Enter.
You Can Undo After You Save
I am amazed how few people know this.
Way back in Office 2007 Microsoft changed the Undo List so that it is NOT cleared whenever you save a file.
You can use Ctrl + z or the Undo icon to undo things you did before you saved the file.
If you close the file that obviously clears the Undo List.
Please let people know this as I find so many people in my training sessions do not know things have changed since Office 2003.
This applies to all MS Office apps.
Clear Borders In Excel
If you need to clear all the borders from a selected range use
Ctrl + Shift + _ (underline)
Make Excel VBA Pause
Sometimes when running a macro you need to make sure Excel has had time to do something before progressing.
This is typically in large models were it can take time (a few seconds) to do a specific task eg removing a filter or updating an external data source.
You can pause a macro to allow Excel to do something by using the Wait command.
Application.Wait (Now + TimeValue("0:00:02"))
The above code will pause the macro for 2 seconds.
Ctrl + Alt + F5 Not Working
The keyboard shortcut to Refresh All in Excel is
This refreshes all the data connections in the file in one step.
The problem is that on some systems (like mine) this conflicts with an Intel Graphics hot key.
To turn off the graphics hotkeys right click the Desktop and choose Graphics Options, then Hot Keys then Disable. See below.
Big thanks to StackOverflow for covering this issue – link below.
VBA to Clear a Filter
Using Excel’s built-in filtering can speed up your VBA code.
It is important if you are applying filters that you clear any existing filters before you apply a new filter. Otherwise the existing filters will usually affect a new filter you apply.
The line of code below will remove filters on Sheet1 (Sheet1 is the sheet code name that you see on the left side of the VBA screen – it may not be the sheet tab name).
If Sheet1.FilterMode Then Sheet1.ShowAllData
The .FilterMode property is True if a filter is in place on the sheet and False if not.
The .ShowAllData method will return an error if no filter is in place – hence the use of the If statement.
Instant Format in Excel
You may know the two keyboard shortcuts below for currency and percentage.
But what you may NOT know is a technique that has been around since the early versions of Excel.
The technique allows you to automatically apply these two formats after you type an entry.
It you type $1000 into a cell and press Enter. Excel will automatically apply the $ format to the cell. The $ sign will not display in the Formula Bar – see below.
If you type 2.5% into a cell. Excel will automatically apply the standard % format to the cell. The % sign will display in the Formula Bar – see below.
As I mentioned these are really old skills that have been lost over the years since we no longer have Excel manuals – shows my age.
Range Selection Tip and Trick
You know how when you press Enter you usually select the cell below? You can override that without changing a single setting.
When you select a range Excel can behave differently when you press the Enter key. Not many users know this trick.
Select the range B2:G2 in a blank sheet and press Enter. The cell selected will be the one on the right or back at the start of the range depending which cell was active when the range was selected.
Pressing Enter cycles through all the cells in the range.
This works for two dimensional ranges as well – in that case the cell below is selected until the bottom of the range is reached then the top of the next column within the range is selected.
This is handy for entering data into input ranges.
Let’s say range A2:D2 has basic links referencing the cell above so cell A2 has =A1 in it.
What if you wanted to change all those relative references to fixed references?
Select the range A2:D2 and then press these three keys in sequence
F2 F4 Enter
Repeat three times – job done!
F2 is the Edit command.
F4 converts a relative reference into a fixed reference.
Enter accepts the change.
You can often achieve very fast changes with keyboard techniques like this.
For example if a cell contains an email address or a web address but it isn’t recognised as a link, simply select the cell and press F2 then press Enter to convert it into a link.
If there is a column of them, just keeping pressing F2 and Enter to convert them all. You can become quite fast.
Marking cells Good-Bad-Neutral
Sometimes when you are reviewing a file against a printed report, you may need to identify when cell values are correct, wrong or close.
Consider using the built-in Styles Good/Bad/Neutral on the Home ribbon tab – see below.
These can be quicker than using the usual fill colour icon.
Remember they may not be useful for colour blind readers if you are sharing with other people.
Don’t forget once applied if you want to apply the same format to another cell press the F4 function key.
Once formatted you can sort or filter by colour – see right click options below.
Adding Values to Values
Let’s say you have an input cell that someone enters multiple values into eg
You may have many such cells.
Now let’s say you want to add 20 to all these cells but keep the original values that have been entered in those cells.
Paste Special to the rescue.
- Enter 20 in a blank cell and then copy the cell
- Select the cells you want to amend – you can hold the Ctrl key down to select multiple cells with the mouse
- Open the Paste Special dialog
- Click the options Values and Add – as per image below – then click OK – done!
The resulting formula will be something like
Find and Replace Tips, Tricks and Traps
The keyboard short for Find is Ctrl + f.
For Find & Replace it is Ctrl + h.
Always, I mean ALWAYS, select the range you are working with before you run Find and Replace.
If you have a single cell selected it will affect the whole sheet – maybe not what you want.
Leave the Dialog Open
In the old days we used to close the Find dialog. Now you can leave it open if you need to change things in multiple files or sheets. You can navigate around with the dialog left open.
When using Find if you want to select all the cells it has found, click in the bottom section of the Find dialog where the cells are listed and press Ctrl + a this will select all the cells at once.
Be aware that sometimes numbers won’t be found due to formatting. eg if you search for 1000 but you have used the comma format eg 1,000 then the number might not be found.
You might need to do two Finds, with and without commas.
Formulas vs Values
Click on the Options button to see these options.
The default Look in: setting for Find (unfortunately) is Formulas. See image below.
This means if a formula returns what you are looking for it won’t be found. You need to switch this Look in: setting to Values.
I found a good shortcut today to increase the decimal places.
Alt H 0
For example you might use these two shortcuts one after the other to format a range as a percentage with one decimal place.
Ctrl + Shift + %
Alt H 0
Making Subtotals Bold
When you use the SUBTOTAL feature in the Data ribbon tab it automatically inserts subtotals in your list – see blog post on it here.
One problem with this is that is only makes the cell with the word Total bold – it doesn’t make the whole row bold.
If you want the whole row to be bold it isn’t hard to fix.
- Select the whole range involved.
- Use the grouping button 2 top left corner. See image below.
- Then hold the Alt key down and press the ; (semicolon key) – this selects just the visible cells.
- Then press Ctrl + b to bold it.
- Click another cell to reset the range and you are done.
Printing Separate Print Areas
If you need to print a number of separate print areas from the one worksheet in one step there is an option that allows you to create a print area that includes additional ranges.
Create your first print area as per normal.
Select another print range and click the Page Layout ribbon and use the Print Area drop down and choose Add to Print Area. Keep adding ranges as you require.
You can also use the Ctrl key and mouse to select multiple separate ranges and then use Set Print Area.
The above technique allows you to add to that Print Area if you miss a range.
The only problem with this option is that each separate range is printed on a separate page(s).