Hardware

Four handy Excel keyboard shortcuts

Use these easy keyboard shortcuts to quickly format cells, without pulling down a menu or reaching for the mouse.
Formatting cells takes just a few clicks -- it couldn't get much simpler than choosing Cells from the Format menu and clicking the appropriate setting. However, you can also format a cell or range from the keyboard. For quick formatting tasks without a menu or mouse, use the following keyboard shortcuts:
  • Date: [Ctrl] + #
  • Number: [Ctrl] + !
  • Time: [Ctrl] + :
  • General: [Ctrl] + ~
You can test these shortcuts quickly enough by entering a value and toggling through the different formats. First, enter the value 123 into any cell. Then, with that cell still selected, press [Ctrl]+# (but don't press Enter). Excel expresses the value 123 as the date 2-May-00. Next, press [Ctrl]+! and Excel formats the cell contents as a number, defaulting to two decimal places. Press [Ctrl]+: and Excel formats 123 as a time value. These keyboard shortcuts aren't huge time-savers, but if you prefer using the keyboard, they're certainly handy.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

22 comments
455475
455475

Seletct the Raw of data to be filtered and press ALT+D+F+F.

eileenfp
eileenfp

ONly the ctrl : worked. Ctl +! just opened the formatting window. Ctl+# made the text Italicized.

Tink!
Tink!

Will definitely use these. They should shave a few seconds and a couple of keystrokes off of my usual formatting. :D

RU7
RU7

Here is a list I've collected over time. Hope they format OK. F2 Edit cell contents in cell mouselessly (use Shift and/or Ctrl + arrow keys to select text) CTRL - Delete Selected Cells, show Shift Selection Box = Start a formula CTRL . Cycle active cell through 4 corners of a selection area CTRL / Range selection based on unknown criteria CTRL [ Range selection based on unknown criteria CTRL \ Range selection based on unknown criteria CTRL ] Range selection based on unknown criteria CTRL ; Insert date CTRL ` Toggle Show/Hide Formulas CTRL 0 Hide Selected Columns CTRL 1 Display Format Cells dialog box CTRL 2 Toggle Bold CTRL 3 Toggle Italics CTRL 4 Toggle Underline CTRL 5 Toggle Strike-thru CTRL 8 Toggle Show/Hide Outline Symbol CTRL 9 Hide Selected Rows ALT ' Show cell's style ALT = Insert empty SUM function ALT 1 Run compatibility checker ALT 2 Show Undo list ALT 4 Activate format painter ALT 5 Quick print CTRL Shift - (_) Format cells (applied format unknown) CTRL Shift , () Copy the left column to every column in the selected area CTRL Shift ; (:) Insert time CTRL Shift [ ({) Range selection based on unknown criteria CTRL Shift \ (|) Range selection based on unknown criteria CTRL Shift ] (}) Range selection based on unknown criteria CTRL Shift ` (~) Apply General format CTRL Shift = (+) Insert Cells, show Shift Selection Box CTRL Shift 1 (!) Apply Number w/2 decimal places format CTRL Shift 2 (at) Apply Time format CTRL Shift 3 (#) Apply Date format CTRL Shift 4 ($) Apply Dollars format CTRL Shift 5 (%) Apply Percent format CTRL Shift 6 (^) Apply Scientific Notation format CTRL Shift 7 (&) Apply Borders format CTRL Shift 8 (*) Select smallest contiguous area around current selection that is surrounded by empty cells

RKEM
RKEM

In Excel 2003 [Ctrl]+: just enters the current time, regardless of what value is in the cell. [Ctrl]+@ converts the cell to time although it will just say 12:00AM unless you put something like 123.25 in the cell, which will show up as 6:00AM, because 6 hrs is 1/4 of a day. This will also make it so you can convert back to a different cell format.

LedLincoln
LedLincoln

Enter 123 as suggested (press Enter). Press Ctrl-: (becomes time). (Press Enter). Press Ctrl-!. Abracadabra, your 123 has become 0.36!

cyndi.brown
cyndi.brown

Very nice, including the topic headings. The headings are useful when selecting a shortcut to use. Thanks!

ted
ted

I'm using Excel for Office Pro 2007, and I get totally different results from the key strokes you indicate. [Ctrl] + # toggles italics on and off [Ctrl] + ! launches Font formatting window [Ctrl] + : yields date format [Ctrl] + ~ changes column width and left justifies value I'm not understanding why your suggestions are different?

TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

I teach Excel at a local community college and I will be sure to use this.

ssharkins
ssharkins

You're absolutely right -- you can't always go backward!

kohl
kohl

I get the same behavior as that of "Excel for Office Pro 2007" in Excel 2003 SP3 with 2007 read and write capabilities.

thestan
thestan

In Excel 2007 shortcuts to format cells are as follows: Ctrl+Shift+~ = General Number Format Ctrl+Shift+$ = Currency Ctrl+Shift+# = Date Ctrl+Shift+@ = Time Ctrl+Shift+! = Number w/2 decimal places Ctrl+Shift+^ = scientific notation Ctrl+Shift+% = Percent My HS students are required to learn these shortcuts.

LedLincoln
LedLincoln

Ted, you need to use your shift key.

david.hanshumaker
david.hanshumaker

Susan! Come on. You can go backward with the keyboard shortcut CTRL Z. I'm sure you knew that.

RU7
RU7

You CAN always go backwards with the most important shortcut to know: Ctrl-Z.

mw00110011
mw00110011

Pressing CTRL + Shift + & (Excel 2003) puts a border around selected cells - not exactly value formatting but one of so many other shortcuts that have been filling our heads for years of Excel.

ted
ted

Thanks! This could be useful. But that obviously means that the original article needs to be corrected.

WPee
WPee

Ref:"My HS students are required to learn these shortcuts. " We have all had ""Teachers"" like that. Here memorise this and here is your grade. We have also had "REAL MENTORS" that have said: Observe & Think & go Create with what you have LEARNED from today.

gandolfo
gandolfo

There is a very good reason why you should write the shortcut like Ctrl-# and not like Ctrl-Shift-3 . If you are using a non-US querty keyboard, perhaps a German or French or QWERTZ keyboard, or perhaps a Mac (shudder), then the special characters are somewhere else.

Maine PC
Maine PC

Many shorcuts using the characters above the numbers are written the way they are in the article - e.g., Ctrl-#. It is assumed that you will use Shift-3 for the # sign, since that is how you type the character. Personally, I prefer shortcuts to be written with Shift and the number - e.g., Ctrl-Shift-3. When using the shorcut, it's easier to find the actual number than the character (for those of us who don't have the character places memorized). But, I guess Ctrl-# is quicker to type.

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