Have you seen those guys in the finance department of your office? They practically breath, drink and eat excel. Have you seen them work? Their fingers pretty much fly all over the keyboard and all you will see is tables expanding and collapsing, formulas and charts appearing out of thin air on their screens.
Basically, it’s practice. Their work revolves around excel. They have to be efficient at getting around excel and so they get familiar with keyboard shortcuts.
You might think, “Whatever can be done with excel shortcuts, I can do it better with a mouse”, but you’re wrong. Going for the mouse every now and then decreases your efficiency. Again you might think, “Big deal it hardly takes a second to reach the mouse”, but then, you also spend time in clicking and navigating to your desired option. It all seems miniscule but multiply it with the number of times you do it for a single task and you will realise that you are actually wasting your time reaching out for the mouse and navigating.
That’s where Excel keyboard shortcuts come in
While you are putting your data and preparing your sheets, it’s best to keep your hands on the keyboard. How do you manage that? By making use of the excel keyboard shortcuts.
While practicing excel keyboard shortcuts, I highly recommend that you disconnect the mouse from the computer before you begin. This will be frustrating at the beginning but it will force you to stick to the keyboard.
Discover how to use Excel functions, from basic to advanced, and create dynamic formulas to generate datasets and data visualisations in Microsoft Excel and similar applications.
Ctrl + Direction key
This will help you jump from data to data. Let’s say, we have data in a table that looks like this.
While I have my cursor at B2, pressing ctrl + down arrow will take you straight to cell B3. Another ctrl + down arrow will move to B5. See what happens?
Between B4 and B5 lies and empty cell B3. Using the ctrl + down arrow button will skip the empty data and navigate straight to the next cell which has data which is B5.
Now, having the cursor at B5, can you guess what happens when you press ctrl + down arrow? B6, yes. That’s where the cursor will navigate to. One more ctrl + down arrow will take me to B8 and another one will take me to B10.
And not just ctrl + down arrow. You can use this mode of navigation in all directions. This is especially helpful when you are working with large table with a lot of rows and columns.
Shift + Direction key
After placing the cursor on a particular cell, shift + will help you select cells as you away form that particular cell.
Ctrl + space
This will help you select an entire column
Shift + space
This will help you select an entire row
Things are starting to get serious now. We will combine the Excel keyboard shortcuts that we just learnt to move even faster around the work sheet.
Ctrl + Shift + direction key
We just saw that Ctrl + direction key, jumps to the next cell with data, shift + direction key selects cells. The combo of ctrl + shift + direction key will jump to the next cell with data while selecting all the cells in between.
Ctrl + Space followed by shift + left or right arrow
Taking the sample worksheet, if I were to place the cursor at B5 and press ctrl + space, I will be selecting the entire column B. After which, pressing shift + left arrow will expand the selection to column A. Likewise, pressing the shift + right arrow will select column C. You can hold down the shift key and continue to press the direction keys to select as many columns as you want.
Shift + space followed by shift + up or down arrow
I am sure you are beginning to guess what’s going to happen by now. So, If I were to place my cursor at B5 and press shift + space, I will be selecting the entire row 5. After which pressing shift + up arrow will expand the selection to row 4 and pressing shift + down will expand