Dawn Bjork Buzbee
The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Certified Microsoft Office 2010 Specialist (MOS 2010) Master Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office 2007 Specialist (MOS 2007) Master Instructor
Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) Instructor
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Data entry is the heart of Excel. If you can't enter data into your
worksheets quickly and accurately, you cannot easily use the tools to
analyze and report on the data. Excel does a lot of things right when it
comes to data entry, but some things are not intuitive. Even advanced
Excel users sometimes pick more complicated approaches than needed.
Fast Entry Shortcuts
Try these quick and easy shortcuts to enter data in Excel:
- To enter the current date: [Ctrl] + ;
- To repeat data from the cell or row immediately above: [Ctrl]
+ ' (single quote) or press [Ctrl] + D.
Add a Hard Return/[Enter] to a Cell's Contents
typing long paragraphs of text, if you want to stay in the same cell but
move to a new line, you cannot just press [Enter]. This will just
move you to the next cell. Instead, to create a line break or new line
in the same cell, just press [Alt] + [Enter]. This trick is
sometimes called a new line or line break.
Keep Leading Zeros When You Enter Data
Do you enter product codes, lease numbers, or other identifiers that
begin with one or more leading zeros? When you enter this type of data,
Excel assumes the entries are numbers and deletes the leading zeros. To
convince Excel to let you enter values with leading zeros, format your
worksheet cells as text and not numbers. There are 2 different
approaches to try:
Text Approach #1:
To change each entry to a text format, type an apostrophe (') in
front of the data. If you have a lot of data, however, this is a
cumbersome approach because you will need to add the apostrophe at the
beginning of each entry not just the data with leading zeros. Otherwise,
your list will not sort correctly.
Text Approach #2:
To prepare for data entry, format selected cells as text.
- Select the cells (even an entire column) that will contain
numbers stored as text.
- Right-click on the selection and choose Format Cells then
click the Number tab.
- Click Text in the Category list and then pick OK to
Move to the Last Row in a List
Instead of potentially scrolling hundreds or thousands of rows to get
to the bottom of a list to add new data, press [Ctrl] + [Down Arrow]
to go to the last cell used in the active column.
Additional Excel navigation shortcuts for a list:
- [Ctrl] + [Up Arrow] to take you to the first cell in the
- [Ctrl] + [Right Arrow] to move to the last cell used in
the current row
- [Ctrl] + [Left Arrow] to go to the first cell used in the
These and other Excel shortcuts for selecting and navigating are
available to you as a handy "cheat sheet" at:
How to Copy and Paste More than One Item at a Time
If you frequently want to copy items from one Excel workbook into
another--or even into another application like Word--it is
time-consuming to copy and paste each cell, object, or image one by one.
Instead use the Office Clipboard which keeps track of the last set of
items that you cut or copied (24 items in Office 2010, 2007, 2003, and
XP/2002). The big plus is that the Office Clipboard is shared by each
To turn on the Office Clipboard in Excel 2010 or Excel 2007:
- Click on the Home tab.
- The Clipboard group is at the far left.
- Click once on the button in the bottom-right corner of the group
to open the Office Clipboard task pane.
To turn on the Office Clipboard in Excel 2003:
- Choose Edit > Office Clipboard.
Each item that you cut or copy will now appear in the Office
Clipboard. Follow any of these steps to use the Clipboard:
- Click on the Options button to customize how you want to
work with the Office Clipboard.
- Click an item to paste it into your worksheet.
- Click Paste All to paste every item in the Clipboard into
- Click Clear All to empty every item in the Clipboard.
- To delete individual items, hover the mouse pointer over an
item, click the down arrow that appears next to it, and choose
Delete to remove it.
Try these tips and tricks for easy data entry in Excel.
© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®
Dawn Bjork Buzbee
is The Software Pro®
and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office
Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist
(MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart
and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software
speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.
This article and
more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with
copyright and attribution.
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Press [Ctrl] + ' or
[Ctrl] + D to repeat data from the cell above.
|Excel 2010 & Excel
2007 worksheets now have 1,048,576 rows and 16,384 columns.