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Microsoft excel is one of the most popular spreadsheet applications on the market, and it can be remarkably useful in a number of situations involving the representation of numbers and equations across charts and spreadsheets. If you're not familiar with Excel, this article will show you the basics, as well as providing a broader perspective on various ways in which this program can make your life easier.
Useful Excel Keyboard Shortcuts
To begin, you should learn some keyboard shortcuts that will likely improve your workflow. There are hundreds of such shortcuts, and it's a good idea learning keyboard shortcuts for all operations you perform regularly. This section will list some of the most generally useful shortcuts:
Selecting a continuous range of cells - Just click on the first cell in the range and press SHIFT + CTRL + END. If you want to do an arbitrary selection of rows or columns, hold SHIFT + CTRL and press the left or right arrow to select rows, or the up and down arrow for columns.
CTRL + key functions - There are several shortcuts available by pressing the CTRL key in combination simultaneously with other keys. You may already be familiar with CTRL + C (copy) and CTRL + V (paste), but there are several others: CTRL + ; (insert current date), CTRL + A (select all), CTRL + B (applies of removes bold), CTRL + I (applies of removes italics), CTRL + F (open "find and replace" box), CTRL + Z (undo last command or action), or CTRL + Y (repeat last command or action.
Useful Excel Commands and Features
There are many actions and features readily available in Excel to make the life of the user a bit easier. The problem is that sometimes these actions can be somewhat elusive for inexperienced users. Learn how to perform these useful actions and you'll get one step ahead in the Excel learning curve.
Creating headers and footers – To create a header or footer reading "page x of xx", you just have to add a simple string in the appropriate section. Look for the Page Setup dialog box and enter "Page &[Page] of &[Pages]".
Quickly navigate through multi-sheet workbooks – You can easily flip through the various sheets in a workbook by looking for the arrow buttons on the bottom-left of the screen. Right click the arrow and you'll get a menu with all available sheets.
Copy data by dragging – When you need to copy data in a cell to another cell, you can do it just by dragging the original cell to the destination cell while holding the right button on the mouse. You'll even get prompted with some saving/conversion options, so you can make sure the data is copied in the appropriate format.
Use cell comments – Whether you're collaborating with other people or just as a personal reminder that allows you to better keep track of your work on a spreadsheet, you can easily add cell comments in excel. To access this function, just right-click a cell and select "insert comment". You can also add, edit or delete the comments you've already added to any cells.
Learn to use the Excel Paste Special command – This tip alone can save you incredible amounts of time, yet many people don't know how to rely on the "paste special" command that's available on the "edit" menu. This is just like the paste command, except it allows choosing the basic mathematical operations. For example, if you want to multiply several cells by a number you've already copied with CTRL + C, you just need to select those cells and choose "paste special"; while doing so, you'll be asked to choose the desired operation, where you just have to choose "multiplication".
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