Excel Shortcuts

At OutsourceExcel, we’re always trying to find ways to improve processes and speed up the time taken to complete a spreadsheet (especially if it’s something that is done many times).

An obvious benefit of  Microsoft Excel is that we can format both the contents and appearance of a cell in several different ways, so that the cell fits our precise requirements. Excel allows us to achieve this by using a mouse or by using keyboard shortcuts (also called excel hotkeys).  Excel shortcuts generally help in speeding up common operations by reducing input sequences to a few keystrokes. Some hotkeys involve the use of just one key, while others require the use of multiple keys.

We’ve provided a list of all of the excel hotkeys at the end of this article.  An altertnative is to use MS Excel itself to access the complete list. In Excel 2007, this list can be accessed by opening the help menu (the hotkey for doing this if F1) and clicking on the “Accessibility” link. In the Accessibility list there is, among other topics, the “excel shortcut and function keys” topic.

The excel shortcut and function keys section contains function keys, CTRL combination hotkeys, as well as some other common shortcut keys, along with a description of the function or functions they perform. For example, describing the functions of the End key it is written that the key can be used for moving the cell present in the window’s lower-right corner when SCROLL LOCK is on and for selecting the final command on a visible menu or submenu. It is also mentioned that Ctrl+ End shortcut can be used for moving the final cell on a worksheet, in the lowest used row of the rightmost used column and moving the cursor to the end of the text if the cursor is in the formula bar.

In case a hotkey doesn’t exist, Excel also provides its users the option to create a hotkey or shortcut. This can be achieved by recording a macro (explained in another article on this site).

Taking advantage of the information available on the use of MS Excel shortcuts can enable one to develop an understanding of the different excel hotkeys and save valuable time.   However, you don’t need to memorize them all in order to become an excel expert.  Take note of the tasks that you repeat often, and then search the list below to see if Microsoft programmed in a quicker way for you to complete that task by using a shortcut.

Here’s a list of the excel hot keys we find the most useful on a daily basis. We’ve broken them out as: navigation & highlighting shortcuts, text & data formatting, cell formatting, and general purpose.

Top Excel Hotkeys:

General Purpose Shortcuts

CTRL + NWhen you need to open a new workbook (with 3 default blank worksheets included), this hotkey will do that for you. You no longer need to go to the File tab and select New; it automatically creates one without the need to choose templates.
CTRL + OThis hotkey activates the Open file dialog box to find and access existing Excel files. Opening files when you currently have another file open will create another button on the taskbar (or cascade that button for Vista and Win7).
CTRL + SHIFT + OIf there are cells with comments added (normally done via right click option and is mostly hidden from view, but will open if mouse cursor is hovered over it), this hotkey will select all those cells.
CTRL + SThis hotkey allows you to save your worksheet with the current name, location & file format. Like the Copy hotkey, this is used all the time. If the file hasn't been saved yet, it will open the Save dialog box, where you can create a name for the file, a location where the file will be stored, and change the file format (i.e. 2007-2010 usually ends their files as .xlsx, which aren't accessible for version 2003 as they use the .xls)
CTRL + PWhen you need to print the worksheet, this hotkey will open the Print Dialog box, allowing you to set the printing options such as how many copies you need to print out. You no longer need to search for this option at the File menu.
CTRL + CCTRL + C is probably the most well known of all hotkeys, as it copies the selected cell data and formats. Most data entry on Excel rely on copy-paste scheme, and this hotkey becomes the standard for it. Pressing the hotkey a second time will open the clipboard showing all recent copied cells; allowing you to choose what cells you want to transfer to another cell without having to switch the selected copied cells back and forth.
CTRL + XThis hotkey is almost synonymous to the Copy option, but instead of saving the original, it will cut the selected cells. It won't delete the data yet until you have pasted it on another cell.
CTRL + VThis hotkey will paste or insert the data from a copied or cut cell (from the same or different worksheet) into the selected cell. Copying/Cutting the cell and pasting it on an filled cell will replace the existing one.
CTRL + ALT + VThis hotkey displays the Paste Special dialog box. It contains options where you can paste only specific data or format, depending on your preferences.
CTRL + ZThis hotkey will use the Undo command, which will return to the last edit or command. Great for returning formats or data that has been changed accidentally. Note that it can only store a limited amount of "Undoes" and cannot recall all the changes you have done.
CTRL + SHIFT + ZThis hotkey will use the Undo or Redo command to reverse or restore the last automatic correction when AutoCorrect Smart Tags are displayed. AutoCorrect will fix common spelling and grammar errors that is set in it's option menu, or creates a form of shortcut to some data. Smart Tags, on the other hand, will characterize specific data and tags them accordingly, allowing you to be more efficient in data handling.
CTRL + YIf there are any commands that can be repeated, this hotkey will do that for you. Note that not all commands can be repeated.
CTRL + TWhen you need to create a table, this hotkey will open the Create Table dialog box. When the dialog box opens, it will highlight all the data in a region to confirm if that is the data you want to create a table with.
CTRL + W or CTRL + F4This hotkey closes the current workbook and will prompt a save dialog box if there are any changes in between the previous save and the closing state. You no longer need to click on the close button at the upper right hand corner. You can also use CTRL + F4 for this function
CTRL + SHIFT + Plus (+)This hotkey will open the Insert dialog box. You can then insert blank cells by shifting them right or downward. Also, you can shift the entire column or row depending on your preference. Very useful when you need to add more cells to your worksheet without having to cut and move a section of your data just to accommodate the new data. The option differs when you select the entire column or row, as it will automatically shift it according to column or row (right and down, respectively), without having to open the dialog box.
CTRL + Minus (-)This hotkey will open the Delete dialog box. Useful for getting rid of extra cells, columns or row. Selecting the cell will give you the option to shift it to the left, up, or delete an entire row or column based on where the cell is located. Likewise, selecting the entire column or row will automatically delete it.
CTRL + 6When this hotkey it used, it allows you to display or hide objects and their subsequent placeholders. Graphics (such as picture files) are examples of Objects. Useful if your worksheet is full of graphics, but want to keep them hidden until you need to see them again.
CTRL + 8This hotkey either displays or enables the outline symbols. These symbols are normally found on the left of the worksheet. Cells that are being grouped can be placed on an outline. This then can be used to control your grouped data better.
CTRL + 9Using this hotkey will hide the rows of selected cells. This allows a quick and easy way to conceal rows without having the need to delete the rows itself. Extremely useful for worksheets that uses a heavy amount of formulas and you need to hide some unimportant rows but are still part of the final data. Selecting the cells vertically will hide the rows of where the cells are found.
CTRL + 0Using this hotkey will hide the columns of selected cells. Just like the hide rows function, this allows you a quick way of concealing columns. The amount of cells you horizontally selected will be the rows that will be hidden.
CTRL + SHIFT + (When used in a selected area, this will unhide any hidden rows in the selection. Useful when you need to open up those rows quickly. Just highlight the adjacent rows where the row in question is sandwiched in, and then press the required keys.
CTRL + SHIFT + )Using this hotkey on a selected area will unhide any hidden columns in the selection. Just like the unhide rows option, it allows you to quickly open hidden columns without having the need to find the appropriate option in the menus (right-click, etc).

Text and Data Shortcuts

CTRL + 1When this hotkey is pressed, it will access the Format Cell dialog box: the one found when you right click and select "Format Cell". This dialog box enables you to adjust the format of the cells you have selected to your preferences. Numbers, Alignment, Font, Border, Fill, and Protection are the options available in the dialog box. As the Format Cell is used quite often, it is important you memorize this hotkey.
CTRL + 2 or CTRL + BThis hotkey will apply or remove the bold format of the selected cell. Bold formatting gives extra emphasis on the data, and thus this hotkey is useful for quickly changing said option without having the need to move your mouse over the Bold Button on the toolbar. Alternately, you can use the more commonly used CTRL+B.
CTRL + 3 or CTRL + IThis hotkey, once selected, will apply or remove the italic format from the selected cell. Just like the bold format, it gives some emphasis on the data, but without enlarging the words (which potentially can take the emphasis & importance away from bolded words). Alternately, CTRL + I can be used instead.
CTRL + 4 or CTRL + UThe hotkey will create or remove an underline below the data in the selected cell. Like the bold and italic format option, underlined data has extra emphasis to it; often used for bottom-line data on financial statements and other types of database but without having the hassle of bold or italics (where the latter can make words slightly harder to read). CTRL + U is the alternate hotkey for this option.
CTRL + 5This hotkey will apply or remove the strikethrough on the data of the selected cell. Strikethroughs are mostly used for editing, like when you need to show the edited word or phrase while retaining the old, pre-changed words. For example, "house home" will allow the reader to see what was changed.
CTRL + SHIFT + :Activating this hotkey will register the current time of your computer into the selected cell. This is quite useful when you need to input the time on a worksheet without have the need to look at the bottom and type it. Current Time is also useful for time card-based data.
CTRL + ;When this hotkey is used, it will display the current date that includes the month, day and year, on its default setting (which would be MM/DD/YYYY). Just as with the Current Time hotkey, this allows rapid input of the date without having to type it. Useful for worksheets like inventories and financial statements.
CTRL + HThis hotkey opens up the Find and Replace dialog box, but opens the Replace tab first instead. Using this hotkey will make it easy to replace words or phrases without having to switch from the Find tab.
CTRL + KThis hotkey opens up the Insert Hyperlink Dialog box if the selected cell has no hyperlink. But if it does, it will instead show the Edit Hyperlink dialog box. Hyperlinks are useful for linking files outside of the worksheet or towards WebPages, without having to search for the specific data. Clicking on the hyperlinked cell will open up the file/webpage on the Windows Taskbar.
CTRL + SHIFT + AWhen the insertion point is to the right of a function name in a formula, this hotkey inserts the name and parenthesis of the argument to it. Good for seeing the argument parameters without having to open the function dialog box so you can add the information required of the function to work
CTRL + SHIFT + "This hotkey will copy any value above the active cell into the selected cell or the formula bar. An extremely useful option than using copy+paste or drag down. One major advantage is that it only does not copy the data (and some formats, if set), but can even add the data into an already filled cell on where you placed the "active cursor bar". For example: A1 has the word "House", and B1 has the word "Tree". Pressing the hotkey while selecting B1 while having the active bar at the end will add the A1 word at the end, becoming "TreeHouse". Otherwise, selecting the cell will just change the data into the above cell.
CTRL + DThis hotkey will activate the Fill down command. This will copy the cell data and format of the cell above. It is almost similar to some hotkeys such as copy or CTRL + Shift + ". There is an added feature: selecting a group of cells will use the topmost cell at the primary cell and will fill the rest of the selected cells with the aforementioned primary cell data.
CTRL + RThis hotkey uses the Fill Right command. Just like the Fill down command, it will copy the data and format of the cell left of the selected one. If a group of cells are selected, the leftmost cell will be copied over the rest of the selected cells.
CTRL + 'This hotkey will copy the formula of the above cell into the selected cell or the formula bar. Almost similar to the data copy option, it copies the formula instead. If the above cell has no formula, it automatically copies the data.

Cell Formatting Shortcuts

CTRL + SHIFT + ~This hotkey, when used, all cells selected that only have numerical characters will be set to the General format (you can still set this format with alphabet characters but the data won't change) . This means the data will just be the base numbers (no time/date or percentage format). Useful when you need to reset the format without the need to open to format dialog box .
CTRL + SHIFT + $This hotkey will apply the Currency Format (with 2 decimal places) on all cells selected , assuming they only have numerical characters (just as with the general format, alphabet characters will not change format). This can greatly help when dealing with data that is more financial in nature (like income statements), without having the need to type in the currency character. The default currency is set to USD ($). It can be changed when needed. Also, negative values will be placed in parenthesis to denote "loss". Note that this is not a Foreign Exchange Rate calculator; it will just change the format of the values.
CTRL + SHIFT + %This hotkey will apply the Percentage Format with no decimal places on selected cells. This is useful to quickly set up the percent signs for some data such as charts and tables without the need of the format dialog box. For example, the value 1 will become 100%, 2 becomes 200%, and so on.
CTRL + SHIFT + ^When used on selected cells, will apply the Exponential Number Format with 2 decimal places. For those data that requires heavy use of exponentials such as scientific studies and research, this hotkey would be most useful. Example: formatting the number 20 will result in 2.00E+01
CTRL + SHIFT + #Using this hotkey will apply the Date format, with the default setting of day, month and year. Inputting other numbers outside of the calendar will distort the date. So once the format has been set, just place the numbers (or date) as a calendar would appear. For example, input the data "April 15, 2011" will show 15-Apr-11
CTRL + SHIFT + @This hotkey will apply the Time format, using the 12 hr time format (with AM and PM). Like the date format, inputting other numbers outside the time frame will distort the time. Also, be wary that adding a non-time value will change it into a date format (which is hidden from view and only seen in the formula bar), while retaining the time; default is 12:00 AM.
CTRL + SHIFT + !This hotkey, when used, all cells selected will be formatted to the Number Format with two decimal places and a thousand separator. Negative values will be formatted with a minus sign (-). This format is arguably the most used when it comes to numbers in general; it's best to learn this hotkey ASAP. For an example, 12345 will result in 12,345.00
CTRL + SHIFT + &When used on selected cells, will apply an outline border. This means you don't have to go into the format dialog boxes to place borders. Useful for situations where you need to make tables quickly, or to highlight the cells without having to change the format of the characters. Also, this hotkey will not give each cell a border if the selection is done via clicking and dragging the cursor (you have to select each cell either individually or using the CTRL+left click to group each cell)
CTRL + SHIFT + _When used on cells with an outline border, will instantly remove them. Unlike the cell outline border hotkey, this will remove all borders of the selected cells, regardless if you click and group the selected cells individually or you selected them as a group.
CTRL + SHIFT + F or CTRL + SHIFT + PThese hotkeys opens the Format Cells dialog box with the Font tab opened. This provides an easy way to edit the font without having to find the font edit option from multiple menus

Navigation Shortcuts

CTRL + AThis hotkey will select the entire worksheet. This provides an easy way to add formats to the entire worksheet, like if you need to activate the bold format to every cell. If the worksheet contains data, this hotkey will select the entire region where the data is found (but will only work if the selected cell is part of the region of data for 2007 version while 2010 version will select the region with data regardless), repeating the hotkey will select the current region and summary rows (only for 2010), while using the hotkey a third time will select the entire worksheet (this kind of selection is for the second use of the hotkey for 2007 version.) There is a second function for this hotkey. It will display the Function Argument dialog box, when the insertion point is to the right of a function name in a formula (i.e. "=IF()" ). The Function Argument allows you create functions or arguments that will uses data to calculate them based on the parameters stated.
CTRL + SpaceWhen you have a cell selected, this hotkey will select the entire column the cell is in. Useful for doing mass data input.
CTRL + GThis hotkey opens the Go To dialog box, an option where you can go to specific cells, acting as a shortcut. This makes it easier to look for specific data. Alternately, F5 will also open said dialog box.
CTRL + F or SHIFT + F5This hotkey opens up the Find and Replace dialog box, with the Find tab initially opened. Extremely useful for data-heavy worksheets and you need to find specific data. The Replace option allows you to change all the specific data into something else. For example: you want to change all the data with the words "Boys" into "Girls", that is when the replace option will come in handy. Also, this dialog box will open if you use SHIFT + F5. On the other hand, SHIFT + F4 will repeat the last Find action.
CTRL + HomeUsing this hotkey will highlight the first cell in the data region. Useful when you need to move back to the start
CTRL + EndUsing this hotkey will highlight the last cell in the data region. Good for checking the last data set of the region.
CTRL + SHIFT + *When this hotkey is activated, it will select the current region on all the cells with data around the initially selected cell. This is an interesting option as it will select all the active cells from all directions; horizontal, vertical and diagonal. It will select inactive cells if they are connected by adjacent active cells. It will stop selecting cells if there's no more adjacent active cells at the border cells. For example: If there's a data on E5, F4 & G5, it will select E4, E5, F4, F5, G4 & G5 (if you take note, E4, F5, and G4 are inactive cells, but are selected because they are adjacent to active cells.

If you use this hotkey on a PivotTable, it will select the entire table, regardless of any inactive cells "cutting out" the rest of the data
CTRL + Page DownThis hotkey will move you to the next worksheet available in the current workbook, moving you towards the right end of the workbook. When you have many worksheets with data, this hotkey will save time and effort.
CTRL + Page UpThis hotkey will move you to the previous worksheet available in the current workbook, moving you towards the left end of the workbook. Using this in conjunction with the CTRL + Page Down, will make worksheet navigation a lot faster.
CTRL + F6This hotkey allows you to move between open workbooks. Useful if you have many files active and need to switch back and forth.

Miscellaneous Shortcuts

CTRL + `This hotkey, once selected, alternates between displaying the cell values and displaying formulas in the entire worksheet. A fairly intermediate option, as it is only used when the need to check the formulas (if any) without seeing their results instead, making edits on formulas a lot easier. A formula-heavy worksheet will benefit from this hotkey, especially if they are very complex.

3 Responses to “Excel Shortcuts”

  1. What is the hotkey to change the pivot table from the more condensed view to outline view?

  2. Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and aid others like you helped me.

  3. I’d suggest admin addding a “google+” button for easy share.

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