Want to impress your boss? Let’s face it, who doesn’t? The question is, how? Well, one of the best ways to do that is to be more productive and get more things done in a shorter time. If your work involves a great amount of time spent using Microsoft Excel, one of the easiest ways to make yourself quicker is to ditch the mouse and use the keyboard instead. This is especially important if you are using a laptop, since fumbling around with the touch-pad really slows you down.

If you don’t believe me, give the following test a go. Type in a column of 10 numbers, then, once that’s done, see how long it takes you to select these numbers, make them bold, apply a currency format and then auto sum the column.

Excel Shortcuts Image 1

For me, that took me about 6 seconds. Using only the keyboard, the same process took me 4 seconds – a productivity increase of 33%.

Although it’s not exactly a scientific test and I can’t translate it into saving over a day, it also wasn’t a fair test. Once I pick up the mouse and go to the ribbon to complete a series of actions, the process is quite quick. But what if I only wanted to do the auto sum?  

Then, with the mouse, it’s still going to take me 4 or 5 seconds, because I’ve still got to grab the mouse, get to the ribbon and find the appropriate command. Using the keyboard, all this will take less than a second. So, the real value of shortcuts is not in speeding up complex tasks (you can create macros for that) but in doing the little things quicker.

To help you do just that, here are 20 Excel shortcuts you probably didn’t know about. Learning even a few of these will help you complete your tasks much quicker in the long run.

Navigating And Selecting On The Worksheet

One of the biggest time wasters in Excel is moving around the workbook or worksheet and selecting text. Luckily, there are plenty of shortcuts available that will allow you to jump to the edges of your data (Ctrl + the arrow keys), select sheets (Ctrl + Page up or down), and select cells (Shift + the arrow keys).

Using “Go to” is a great way of jumping from location to location in a complex spreadsheet, but rather than going to the Home tab and clicking “Find” and then “Go to”, a quick press of the F5 key will open the dialog for you.

If you need some help with this (or if you’re looking for similar shortcuts and tutorials), Activia have an entire page dedicated to resources like how-to videos and downloadable templates.

Entering Data

Let’s say that you are entering a new row of data – are there any ways of speeding things up? Of course!

Whenever we use Excel, we quite often have to duplicate the value in the cell above. If you want to do that, the quickest way is to press Ctrl + D. Or, if you need a list of all your previous entries, then the Alt + down arrow shortcut will display a list of all the unique ones for you.

If you’re looking to add a column or row of numbers, you can use the AutoSum feature. Simply press Alt + = at the bottom of the column and you’re done. You can read about this feature in more detail on the Tech Republic blog.

Excel Shortcuts Image 2

Formatting Data

Once you’ve selected the cells you need, you’ll probably want to format them – and, once again, shortcuts will help you do that much more quickly.

You can make the text bold (Ctrl + B), apply a currency format (Ctrl + Shift + $), apply a border (Ctrl + Shift + &), and much more – and all these with a few keystrokes. And, you can use these same shortcuts in Microsoft Word too.

Showing And Hiding Data

Hiding columns and rows is not a complicated task, just a simple right click on the row header. But why go to all that trouble when a simple Ctrl + 9 will do the trick? To unhide your selected rows, just press Ctrl + Shift + 9.

Or what if you need to see the formulas behind your cells? The Ctrl + Grave (that’s the one above the Tab key) shortcut will toggle the display of formulas and results. Chandoo’s article explains this, and other shortcuts for writing better formulas, in more detail.

Excel Shortcuts Image 3

Do you ever wish that you hadn’t put that picture or chart in place because they are getting a bit distracting? Don’t delete them, just hide them. Ctrl + 6 will toggle the display of objects in your spreadsheet.

Managing Your Workbook

Finally, what if you want to build a workbook from scratch? Well, first of all you’ll need a new workbook (Ctrl + N) and a few new sheets to populate it (Shift + F11). Of course, you’ll need to rename the sheets (Alt + O + HR).  After you have entered some data, you can add a comment (Shift + F2) or even a chart (Alt + F1) before saving your document (Ctrl + S) and closing the workbook (Alt + F4).

Although you may not use all of these shortcuts, knowing (and using) even just a few of them will speed up your work and save you a considerable amount of time in the process.

What are your favourite Excel shortcuts that help you speed up your work? Let us know in the comments below.

About the author

Cliff Wade

Founder and Chief Editor of TechDissected. I'm an avid Linux user, that's addicted to music, electronics, the internet, computers, Android, iOS and everything tech related! Rocking a Google Pixel 6 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro and several other devices that go beep. Lover of #Cheeseburgers #Android #Penguins #Tech and the #HoustonTexans. Gadgets and Gizmos are my specialty. Customer Suppport Specialist and Social Media Manager for TeslaCoilSW, the makers of Nova Launcher and Nova Launcher Prime. If you have any questions just ask as I'm always happy to help.