How keyboard shortcuts help
It is worth taking the time to learn the keyboard shortcuts for Excel.
Speed – Keyboard clicks are so much faster than mouse moves. It might not seem like much of a difference, but taking longer to complete each small task can add up to a lot of time throughout the day
Recall – There is no need to remember which menu contains the task you’re after.
Efficiency – You’ll also save the time you spend moving back and forth from keyboard to mouse.
Helpful keyboard shortcuts to get you started
Here are some of our keyboard shortcut favourites, along with a few interesting ways of remembering them.
For each, you’ll need to hold down the first key and then click on the next. For example “Ctrl X” means hold down the Ctrl key then click on X.
Ctrl C – Copy
Easy to remember as Copy starts with a C.
Ctrl X – Cut
The X looks a little like a pair of scissors, perfect for cutting!
Ctrl V – Paste
Think of the V as an arrow pointing down, whether you have used Copy or Cut to pick up the text you’ll be using the V to Paste it back down.
Ctrl Alt V – Paste Special
Sometimes you need an alternative way to paste. You might want to paste just the values and not the formulas, or the figures without any formatting.
This is where you use Paste Special. Add Alt to Ctrl V and a box will pop up which will allow you to choose what exactly to paste.
Ctrl “ – Copy the value from the cell above
This is a great way to copy and paste quickly. Using “ (the quote mark) you’re essentially quoting from the cell above.
Ctrl A – Select all
A for All. This will select the whole sheet; or, if you double-click on a cell first, it will select all the content within the cell.
This can be really handy if you want to make sure you’ve selected everything before copying, cutting, deleting or formatting.
Alt Enter or Alt Return – New line within a cell
We are all familiar with pressing the Enter (or Return) key to move on to a new line.
However, in Excel, pressing Enter will move you down into the next cell. Sometimes you want to create a new line within the cell instead. This is where you need an alternative way of clicking Enter, hence Alt Enter!
Ctrl Z – Undo
Undoing is essentially cleaning up a mistake you’ve made. When we wipe away a mess we often make a motion with our hand that spells out a Z.
Another way I remember the Z is to think of “Zut” (pronounced zoot) the French word for “damn it!” So you might say "Zut" when things go wrong and need to be undone!
Ctrl Y – Redo
Okay so we thought we got it wrong, but we were right after all! If you need to redo something you’ve just undone use Ctrl Y for Yes.
Arrow keys – up, down, left, right
No need for the mouse, you can navigate around your spreadsheet using the arrow keys on your keyboard. If you want to select an area hold down the shift key and use the arrows to extend your selection.
Ctrl S – Save
Another easy one: S for Save. It is good practice to save your changes every five minutes; certainly no longer than 30 minutes.
Most importantly save each time you make a significant change. Using a keyboard shortcut this almost becomes second nature.
Ctrl Shift $ – Convert cell into to currency format
Hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys then click $. This is a really quick way to convert ordinary numbers into currency.
Ctrl Shift % – Convert cell into percentage format
Similar to the shortcut above, this converts the contents of the cell into a percentage instead of an ordinary number. Bear in mind that the number 1 will be converted to 100%.
Ctrl F – Find
Want to find something fast? Click on Ctrl, then F for Find. Then type in what you’re looking for and click Enter.
Ctrl 5 – Strikethrough
High five! I’ve got that job done. Those of us who use Excel make to do lists can use the strikethrough formatting to visually cross off completed tasks. What faster way of doing this than a quick Ctrl 5.
Shift F10 – Right mouse click
The more keyboard shortcuts you learn, the less you’ll be using your mouse. You’ll find you can fulfil most tasks entirely through keyboard clicks.
That said one really useful feature of the mouse is the right-click. Point at almost anywhere on your screen and click on the right mouse button and you get a handy pop-up menu tailor-made for your current activities – it is your flexible friend!
If you’ve ditched the mouse but don’t want to miss out on the right-click, use the keyboard shortcut Shift F10 and “go with the flo”.
More Excel keyboard shortcuts
I've given you just a small selection of the many keyboard shortcuts available to speed up your work in Microsoft Excel.
Once you’ve mastered these, you can find more here: