Common Excel Confusions

Some common Excel confusions can be easily remedied

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Common Confusions in Excel

When working on financial models within Excel, it is quite common to come across some of the following confusions. It may seem like Excel is bugging, but in reality, there are some easy fixes to common Excel confusions.  Check out our FREE Excel crash course to avoid making these easy mistakes.

Excel confusions solution

Common Excel Confusion – Commands in toolbar menu “greyed out”

When this occurs, chances are that several tabs or sheets have been unknowingly grouped. To verify this, the user can look at the top of the Excel toolbar and see if the text [GROUP] is beside the sheet name. If so, simply deselect the group by selecting another sheet that is not part of the group. This should clear up the grouping and allow access to the toolbar.

Common Excel Confusion – Spreadsheet suddenly displays formulas

When this occurs, the sheet will also become wonky, and cells and rows may enlarge to accommodate the appearance of the formulas. Often, this means that formula mode has been activated. To return to normal mode, press Ctrl +.

Common Excel Confusion – Numbers appear when certain letters are pressed

This can be one of the most frustrating of the common Excel confusions. If numbers appear when the letters J, K, L, U, I, O or M are being pressed, the user may have inadvertently activated NumLock. To deactivate, press Shift + NumLock, which is located in the upper right hand corner of most keyboards.

Check out our FREE Excel crash course to avoid these easy mistakes.

Common Excel Confusion – Cursor stays fixed while the page scrolls when using the arrow keys

If the arrow keys do not move cells within Excel, and instead move the entire view as if scrolling, scroll lock has most likely been activated. To deactivate, simply press the scroll lock key, which is located near the num lock key in the upper right hand corner of most keyboards.

Common Excel confusions - mouse

Common Excel Confusion – Pressing the arrow keys selects cells even though shift is not held down

If this occurs, there may be one of two things happening. The first is that sticky keys has been activated, thereby acknowledging a shift press where there is none. The second involves the shift key inadvertently sending a press code even though it is not being pressed. This may happen from time to time with cheaper keyboards or faulty hardware. To fix either issue, simply press the shift key once to register a press followed by a release.

Excel confusions - shift key

Escape key

The escape key is one of the Excel user’s best friend. When in doubt, press the escape key several times to exit out of any options or modes that may have been entered into.

Learn more about Excel best practices to ensure a smooth modeling experience.

Additional resources

This article has addressed some of the most common Excel confusions. In addition, we have compiled some helpful resources to continue developing your financial modeling skills in Excel.

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