Excel Shortcuts

Why use Excel Shortcuts?

An often-overlooked method of increasing productivity when working in an Excel model is to use Excel shortcuts, or shortcut keys. These shortcut keys perform major functions that, when used instead of clicking in the toolbar, dramatically increase efficiency in speed. Imagine simply pressing two or three keys on the keyboard as opposed to moving your hand to the mouse, moving the mouse and clicking several times. There are thousands of keyboard shortcuts that can be used within Excel to increase productivity. These shortcuts can perform any functions as simple as navigation within the spreadsheet to filling in formulas, or grouping data.



Basic terminology

Before diving into the excel shortcuts, it would be prudent to first discuss basic terminology around the elements of excel.

  • A cell is any of the many boxes with the Excel spreadsheet.
  • An active cell is the cell currently selected by Excel. There can only be one active cell.
  • A selection is the active cell, or a group of cells currently selected. If more than one cell is in the selection, the active cell will be highlighted in white, while the rest of the selection is highlighted in grey.
  • A column is a group of vertical cells, referenced in Excel by letters in ascending order from A to Z. Beyond column Z, Excel will repeat letters a second time. As such, the column directly after column Z is column AA, followed by column AB.
  • A row is a group of horizontal cells, referenced in Excel by integers in increasing order from 1 to n. The value n depends on the operating system and version of Excel.


There are also different types of data that exist within Excel.

  • Text are pieces of data that utilize letters. Numbers can also be used in Text data. However, these numbers must be used in conjunction with letters, or must manually be set to text.
  • Numbers are pieces of data that utilize numbers exclusively. Unlike text type data which can use numbers, number type data cannot use letters.
  • Currency/accounting pieces of data that utilize numbers in conjunction with a currency marker.
  • Dates are pieces of data that denote a date and/or time. There are multiple formats for dates within Excel.
  • Percentage type data are a subset of numbered data that is converted into percentage. These can be converted back into the number-type, and vice versa. Converting to number type from percentage will show the number as a decimal. For example, 89% will convert to 0.89.




Excel shortcuts sample data


These pieces of data only show columns A to D and rows 1 to 4.

In this cutout from a spreadsheet, the user has a selection containing cells A2 to D2. This would be referenced in Excel formulas as A2:D2.

There can only be one active cell regardless of how large a selection is. In this case, the active cell is cell A2, with the text data “Orange.”

Cells A2:A4 contain the text data [Orange, Tomato and Potato]

Cells B1:D2 contain the text data [Price, Quantity and Total Price]

Cells B2:B4 and D2:D4 contain currency data, denoted in $

Cells C2:C4 contain number data


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