Tool Tips

15 04 2012

David Coverston

by David Coverston
Membership Manager
Orlando Central Florida Chapter STC

Shortcuts in Excel

Since Excel is one of the most widely used business applications, adding some knowledge of it to your arsenal of skills is a plus for technical communicators. But first, a word or two about using shortcut keys. I’ve noticed that a lot of people tend to fall into two categories: mousers and keyboard pounders. Here is my take on that–don’t fall into either category exclusively. You put too much strain on your wrists if you do. Switch back and forth between the mouse and the keyboard. If your hands are on the keyboard, use the shortcut keys. Of course, you have to know the shortcut keys to use them. You will most likely find that some tasks are just easier to do with shortcut keys.

You can view a list of shortcut keys for Microsoft Office products at http://www.microsoft.com/enable/products/keyboard.aspx  I have found it easier to use a printed list, such as the PDF at http://www.shortcutworld.com/en/win/Excel_2003.html . I have a notebook next to my computer with printed lists of keyboard shortcuts for all the applications I use, and also other useful information like Regular Expressions, HTML color charts, and ASCII characters.  Hey, you can’t remember all that stuff! But I have some useful ones you will want to remember.

So here are the Excel shortcut keys I use the most:

Control+1 Displays the Format Cells dialog box.
Shift+Spacebar Selects a row
Control+Spacebar Selects a column
Control+; Inserts the current date
Control+↓ Move to the end of cells with data

Use this with any of the arrow keys. This is helpful in finding cells with missing data. For example, position your cursor in the first cell of a column, then press control+. The cursor moves to the end of the data in a column, unless there is a blank cell in that column. It stops at the blank cell.

Shift+ Control+↓ Move and selects to the end of cells with data
Shift+ Control+* Selects the current region around the active cell
Alt+Enter Inserts a return in a cell
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