Mastering Keyboard Shortcuts in Excel


Excel is a very popular application in the workplace as well as in the home. I use the program for managing personal lists, calendar, creating forms, personal budgets and even diagramming. Maybe you use Excel in your job for accounting applications, project planning or managing lists.

Excel has a lot of power and functionality implemented in a collection of menus and toolbars. Novice users will spend a lot of time with one hand on the mouse choosing menus, clicking buttons and responding to dialog boxes.

Most of this functionality is available as keyboard shortcuts which means you can access the same functionality by using the Ctl (Control), Shift or Alt key followed by another key. Function keys can also be used or combinations of keys.

In this article I give you a strategy to learn and use these shortcut keys. This will benefit you by improving your productivity, minimising the possibility of repetitive strain injury. Not having to slow down to reach for the mouse and navigate toolbars will streamline your work and train of thought.

There are many shortcut summaries available on the Web. You can always Google “Excel Keyboard shortcuts 2007 “.

1. Download one of these lists and print for quick access

2. Read the entire list of shortcuts so you know what is available

Read the list to understand the range and power of keyboard shortcuts. Make a note of any shortcuts you would like to explore first.

3. Practice small sets of shortcuts to build muscle memory.

Using shortcuts is like learning a skill such as driving a car or playing a musical instrument. You practice a particular skill (in this case, a shortcut) and after a few repetitions you should have it memorised. Your fingers appear to memorise the shortcut. This phenomenom is known as “muscle memory”.

When you next yse Excel, every time you want to reach for the mouse, use the shortcut you have practiced or refer to the chart so you can learn a new shortcut. Once you are familiar with a shortcut, put a tick or highlight to record your progress at memorising the shortcut.

4. Learn the shortcuts by functionality.

Most of the summaries show the shortcuts alphabetically but you are better off learning by function. For example, learn how to navigate and move around the worksheet and workbooks, then learn shortcuts for selection, formatting and editing.

5. My favourite shortcuts.

Here is a summary of some very useful shortcuts grouped by function. These were tested on Excel 2007 on Windows XP.

A note on terminology. An Excel spreadsheet document is a file with suffix of xls or xlsx containing a Workbook which in turn contains a set of Worksheets. A newly created document usually has three worksheets labelled Sheet1, Sheet2 and Sheet3.

Worksheets

F6            Shows/Hides shortcut letters on the ribbon and
              toolbar. Use these shortcuts to navigate the ribbon
              and toolbars

Ctl-PageUp    Go to Previous Worksheet (does not cycle to
              last worksheet)
Ctl-PageDown  Go to Next Worksheet (does not cycle to first worksheet)
Alt-Shift-F1  Create a new worksheet
Ctl-F6        Go to the next Workbook  that is open.
              Very handy for when you are editing multiple documents.

Formatting

Ctl-1         Displays Format Cells Dialog box
Ctl-2         Adds or removes bold formatting
Ctl-3         Adds or removes italic formatting
Ctl-$         Adds or removes underlining formatting
Ctl-Shift-$   Applies currency formatting to cell
Ctl-Shift-#   Applies date formatting to cell (DD-MMM-YY)
Ctl-Shift-@   Applies time formatting to cell (HH:MM AM/PM)
Ctl-Shift-~   Applied general number formatting
Ctl-Shift-%   Applies percentage format with no decimal places
Ctl-Shift-!   Applies number format with 2 decimal places, thousands
              separator and minus sign for negative values. 
              (A format favoured by accountants!)
Ctl-Shift-(   Unhides hidden rows within the selection
Ctl-Shift-)   Unhides hidden columns within the selection
Ctl-9         Hides selected rows
Ctl-0         Hides selected columns

Formulas

Ctl-`         Toggles between showing the cell value and the formula.

Editing

Ctl-D         Copies cell value from the top of selected cells to all
              cells in selection
Ctl-R         Copies cell value from the left of selected cells to all
              cells in row of selection
Ctl-D Ctl-R   Copies cell value from top left corner of selection
              rectangle to all cells
Ctl-;         Enter current date in cell
Ctl-Shift-:   Enter current time in cell

One response to this post.

  1. very handy!

    Reply

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