10+ keyboard shortcuts to speed formatting in Excel worksheets

A comprehensive list of Excel shortcuts is available as a PDF download.

By now, most Office users probably know the Bold, Italic, and Underline shortcuts as well as they know their own names. (I've included them here because someone will surely take me to task if I leave them out.) But the rest of these shortcuts are less well known, even though you might actually need to apply, say, the Currency format to data more often than Underline or Italic.

These are standard, practical shortcuts that can save you time in earlier versions of Excel -- but they're especially useful in Excel 2007. Although the formats are accessible from the Home tab in that version, it could be years, possibly decades, before you develop the habit of locating them quickly. And if you're working in a different tab, you don't want to have to keep switching back to the Home tab just to format the data you're working on.

Action Shortcut
Bold the selection Ctrl+B
Italicize the selection Ctrl+I
Underline the selection Ctrl+U
Strike through the selection Ctrl+5
Open the Style dialog box Alt+'
Open the Format Cells dialog box Ctrl+1
Apply the General format Ctrl+Shift+~
Apply the Currency format Ctrl+Shift+$
Apply the Percentage format Ctrl+Shift+%
Apply the Date format Ctrl+Shift+#
Apply the Time format Ctrl+Shift+@
Apply the Number format Ctrl+Shift+!
Apply the Exponential number format Ctrl+Shift+^
Apply an outline border to the selection Ctrl+Shift+&
Remove an outline border from the selection Ctrl+Shift +_


Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior editor for Tech Pro Research.


Several times almost every day for the last ten years or so I've used Excel to sort data on two or three columns. Pre-07: alt-d-s- focus is on what column to sort, use arrow keys to select, tab twice for the next column. Now: alt-d-s- focus is on "OK", then shift-tab, tab to get to the same place. Alt-a tab for the next column. I touched five keys to get to choose which of two columns to use as sort keys (plus whatever arrow keystrokes were needed). Now it's eight. "Three keystrokes" doesn't sound like much. "60% more", though, is a big deal when it's multiplied enough times. Is there any way to restore the previous (i.e. "sane") behavior? Most of he new features are welcome; I just wish they hadn't changed so many existing methods unnecessarily.

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