Microsoft

The 10 most useful Excel keyboard shortcuts

Why complicate your spreadsheet life with a bunch of tricks you'll never use? These 10 shortcuts will expedite the Excel tasks you perform every day.

As we've observed before, there's no shortage of information on Microsoft Office keyboard shortcuts. You can tap the Help files, hunt the info down via Google, or download a comprehensive list, like this Excel cheat sheet.

It's great to know the resources are out there. But on a practical level, mastering 10 genuinely useful shortcuts will get you a lot farther than a vague knowledge of 50 shortcuts you seldom use and can't remember. Here are 10 timesavers that put the short in shortcut.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

The shortcuts

Action Shortcut
Insert a new line within a cell [Alt] [Enter]
Enable editing within a cell [F2]
Add a comment to a cell [Shift] [F2]
Open Print Preview [Ctrl] [F2]
Fill selected cells with an entry you typed in one cell [Ctrl] [Enter]
Fill data down or to the right through selected cells [Ctrl] D or [Ctrl ] R
Create a name [Ctrl [F3]
Insert the current date or time Ctrl] and ; (semicolon) or Ctrl and : (colon)
Create a chart from a range of data [F11]
Toggle the display of formulas [Ctrl] ~

Your picks?

"Most useful" is certainly in the eye of the beholder. What favorite keyboard shortcuts would you add to the list?

About

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.

40 comments
vinamrachandra
vinamrachandra

My Favourites;

CTRL-1 to open the 'Format Cells' dialog

CTRL-2 to Bold the text

CTRl-3 to Italicisize the text

ALT-F11 to open VB Editor

CTRL-SHIFT-RIGHT and then DOWN to select all the data in current range

janicebasco
janicebasco

Yes! Its very useful to each of every one...

planetexcel
planetexcel

Shift + F11 - Insert a new sheet in a snap

LoriRuff2000
LoriRuff2000

I love the standards of [CTRL] X, C, or V to Cut/copy/paste I also LOVE the [Ctrl]- to delete a cell or row or column and [Crtl][Shift]+ to add a cell, row or column

stapleb
stapleb

I just love Ctrl + 1 to get to Format Cells; Alt + = for Autosum; F2 to edit cells; Shift + F2 to add a Comment, and a few others. I teach Excel and was gratified to have a participant attend the next level course and tell me that he now never uses his mouse to get to Format Cells - Ctrl + 1 has become the best time saver he has ever come across.

JandyWarner
JandyWarner

CTRL-HOME to highlight A1 and CTRL-END to highlight the last cell that contains or contained data.

WillfromSF
WillfromSF

This article starts out with "Why complicate your spreadsheet life with a bunch of tricks you?ll never use?" Exactly.

digibecky
digibecky

Ctrl+PgDown or Up to move between sheets and Alt+PG Down or Up to move across columns inside a sheet.

smhodge
smhodge

I use Ctrl + '. Love it!

JaneHawkins
JaneHawkins

F3 to paste a name (named range) into a formula or function. Or everyones favourite Ctrl + Z to undo!!!

ahmed
ahmed

Hide a row...[CTRL][9] Enter a drop down list in a cell...Alt+Enter

khangyeong
khangyeong

ctrl+f2 does not work for me for print preview. but i know this shortcut works for ms word.

ferdie
ferdie

"ALT" + "=" is shortcut for sum put the cursor in the cell below a list of numbers. it will sum the above cells. Keeps you from having to type the formula, or using the mouse.

gkcoach1
gkcoach1

I love the F4 shortcut, which anchors a computation to a specific cell. If you are using one cell to multiply several other cells, you can use F4 in the formula to create the anchor, and then click and drag the formula, changing all of the factors, and leaving the anchor in place. Excellent shortcut.

andrea.boyd
andrea.boyd

My all time favorite (used daily): F4 This will repeat the last action in any MS Office program. *note* - This does not always work for super complicated or multi-step processes, but works 99% of the time when I need it.

ahmed
ahmed

Some keyboards have an "F.Lock" IIf it is off, the f-keys won't work Ctrl-F2 works withe me fine

ferdie
ferdie

"did you save?" The most hated question in IT.

kristain
kristain

Activate menus - F10 Save - Ctrl + S Print - Ctrl + P New workbook - Ctrl + N Open - Ctrl + O Copy - Ctrl + C Cut - Ctrl + X Paste - Enter Repeat last action - F4 Today?s date - Ctrl + ; Chart selected data - F11 Fill down - Ctrl + D Fill right - Ctrl + R Copy formula above - Ctrl + ' Copy value above - Ctrl + "

gwyn909
gwyn909

F4 to anchor cells came from Lotus. It used to be called absolute. Many of the shortcut keys were copied from Lotus and before, such as Ctrl C to copy, Ctrl-V to paste, Ctrl-X to cut. For years I have been using the pull down menus such as Alt-E, I, S which lets me number a column of rows. Simple, type a 1 in the first cell, highlight the number of rows you wish to number, press Alt-E (edit menu is displayed), press I for insert, S for series and then Enter. I find this a whole lot easier than holding the mouse drag key down. I seldom use the heiroglyphs MS excel 7 displays because it takes to much time to hunt for them on a ribbon. I spent too long learning to read and write to have to go back to using little pictures. Have a good one and explore the possibilities.

Arcturus16a
Arcturus16a

I use Excel 2007 but I sometimes like to use the 97/03 version of table formatting "Auoformat". I recently found a shortcut to open the legacy table formats. Highlight the table to be formatted then: ALT+Right ALT+O ALT+A

TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

MS calls it absolute value. I teach MS Office at a community college up in York PA and I have the toughest time explaining how that works to my students. I explain the way that the fill handle works and how the F4 stops the fill handle for part of the equation.

Johanne.Stirling
Johanne.Stirling

I use this almost daily: Highlight the row(s) or column(s) you want to delete and press - Highlight the row(s) or column(s) where you want them inserted and press +

mikaej
mikaej

Other most likely used shortcuts (of course not to mention ctrl + z, ctrl + y etc.): * ctrl + arrow: brings to next empty cell * crtl + end: brings to the end of table * ctrl + 1: shows 'format cell' window * crtl + 9: hides row of selected cell * ctrl + 0: hides column of selected cell * ctrl + [: brings to cell wherefrom formula takes data ctrl + ]: brings to cell whereto Only for MSO 2007: * ctrl + t: converts marked selection to a easily formatable table * ctrl + F1: (un)hides the ribbon

dhays
dhays

What about ctl+y for repeating? Other shortcuts available on TechRepublic: http://tinyurl.com/yh5uvy2 for 85 Excel shortcuts, this will get you a .pdf file with 85 Excel keyboard shortcuts. I am not sure how you can get soem of them, one lists a "grave accent", along with ctl key I don't see such on my keyboard, so it is not much of a shortcut.

Excelmann
Excelmann

Seeing MS (Office 2007+) in its infinite wisdom decided we no longer needed customizable toolbars that can float around a spreadsheet, I was forced to create my own in the QAT (quick access toolbar, next to the button the ribbon). The one advantage to customizing this feature is the commands are accessible through Alt keys plus the number of their order. As a mouse-loathing, keyboard user, these are my self-created shortcuts: Alt + 1 Use selected area to set Print Area Alt + 2 open Page Setup Alt + 3 display Print Preview Alt + 4 Center selected cell(s) content Alt + 5 open Borders palette Alt + 6 Format Painter Alt + 7 Merge & Center selected cells Alt + 8 open Highlight palette To use this capability, Alt+F, I, Customize. Add & remove what you desire. On the far right of the screen are a pair of up and down arrow buttons which you can use to arrange your selections in the order so desired (click the command and use the up and down arrows to arrange command order). The first command listed will execute when Alt + 1 is used.

Xephire
Xephire

Change the settings to R1C1 reference, and not A1, then it will show offset values and it is easier to show the difference...

david.hanshumaker
david.hanshumaker

Using the F4 key toggles between absolute or relative references. The absolute references can have row, column or both anchored. Absolute value is a mathematical function, and in Excel it is a worksheet function. Completely different than absolute reference. Don't teach your students that absolute references are called absolute values.

jtroop
jtroop

You cannot highlight rows or columns and then press + to insert them, because you have to move the cursor to the place you want the data to go. You can use the Ctrl - buttons to delete though, not just the - key as you suggested. Does anybody at TechRepublic check these out?????

anesone
anesone

This only works for me if I use Ctrl and + or Ctrl and -. And then it only works with the + and - on the keypad. (Using MS Excel 2003).

Xephire
Xephire

Just record them as macros in your personal spreadsheet and assign a short cut to them at recording time. Then instead of Alt+1, you can use any keyboard combo you can assign a macro to.

TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

Regardless, it is still a difficult concept to teach, which is strange because it is such as basic concept.

grant_s_scott
grant_s_scott

Try this on a blank page type 1 through 10 in column A,B,C. Highligh cells B1:C10. As directed Press Control and the Plus on the keypad, Then choose right.

unellen
unellen

checked that one with the laptop, and still didn't work with or without the control. just worked with ctrl + on keypad

kevin.stafferton
kevin.stafferton

If your + key normally requires the Shift key pressed then you will need press Ctrl and Shift. I guess the previous commenters are using the + on the keypad, in which case only Ctrl is required.

LedLincoln
LedLincoln

I must be missing something; the plus or minus keys just insert the plus or minus characters into the first cell if I don't use [Ctrl].

Chip Seelig
Chip Seelig

@anesone- You can use this without using the keypad. You just have to use the shift key with the "+". Wanted to point this out, if you're wanting to use this formula on a laptop w/out a keypad.