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The 20 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts to Utilize

Learning the shortcuts on any program can cut the time it takes to produce a document. With a program like Excel that has so many uses, knowing some of its shortcuts can make navigating, entering formulas, and setting up worksheets quicker to do.

Reasons to Use Shortcuts

Excel has many uses, although creating spreadsheets is probably its most common one. Within a spreadsheet, both written and numerical data is often used, so learning some of the shortcuts for both types of data can help save time when trying to organize information.

keyboard with shortcuts on it

Image via Keyshorts

Using shortcuts takes less time because you won’t need to use the mouse to go to the ribbon to find the function or formula that you need. Also, by memorizing the shortcuts, your work will be more precise. You will be less likely to make mistakes that will need to be corrected by yourself or someone else.

Creating spreadsheets can be a tedious job, especially if there are large amounts of data to organize. However, by learning Excel shortcuts, the task can become easier because it will be quicker to do, and your accuracy will improve as well.

Here are 20 Excel shortcuts for Windows and Mac that can help you work more efficiently.

Workbook Operations

When you’re ready to start a new worksheet or continue working on one, these shortcuts can help open a current workbook or a new one and save it when you’re done finished entering information on it.

Open Workbook: Ctrl + O (Windows and Mac)

This shortcut helps you open a workbook on which you’ve been working. Once you press the keys, the recent workbooks box will appear, and you can choose the one you need.

New Workbook: Ctrl + N (Windows and Mac)

If you need to open a new workbook, this shortcut works for both the Windows and Mac operating systems.

New Worksheet: Shift + F11 (Windows and Mac)

This shortcut adds a new worksheet to a workbook.

Save As: F12 (Windows)  ⌘+ Shift + S (Mac)

The F12 function key helps you save the worksheet or workbook on Windows. The combination of the keys shown above will do that on a Mac computer. After the keys are pressed, the dialog box opens so you can insert the name of the workbook.

Close Excel: ALT + F4 (Windows)   Ctrl + Q (Mac)

When you’re finished with Excel, this shortcut closes the program, not just the workbook.

Ribbon Operations

If you’re new to Excel, you may not be familiar with the ribbon. The ribbon is the box above the worksheet that displays the tabs and buttons for the various commands on the application.

Show or Hide Ribbon: Ctrl + F1 (Windows)   ⌘ + OPT + R (Mac)

Use this shortcut to open or hide the ribbon box.

Show Ribbon Accelerator Keys: Alt (Windows)   n/a (Mac)

The accelerator keys are other shortcuts on Excel. When you select Alt on a Windows computer, a letter or number appears under the tabs on the ribbon. These include the:

  • File
  • Home
  • Insert
  • Page Layout
  • Formulas
  • Data
  • Review
  • View
  • Help
  • Save Icon

When you press the letter or number under the tab, letters or numbers will appear under the commands for that task. You can then use shortcuts to do whatever you need.

For example, when you press Alt and W under the View tab, a Q appears under Zoom. Then, selecting Q allows you to enlarge the information on the worksheet.

Editing Operations

After you use some of the shortcuts, you may want to make corrections by undoing something, or you may want to copy data to paste it into another row or cell. These shortcuts are self-explanatory.

Copy: Ctrl + C (Windows and Mac)

Paste:  Ctrl + V (Windows and Mac)

Undo: Ctrl + Z (Windows and Mac)

Cut: Ctrl + X (Windows and Mac)

Spellcheck: F7 (Windows and Mac)

Formatting Operations

Some formatting functions will be used more than others, so the most common ones are listed here. These shortcuts don’t need any further explanation either.

Bold: Ctrl + B (Windows)   ⌘ + B (Mac)

Italic: Ctrl + I (Windows)   ⌘ + I (Mac)

Underline: Ctrl + U (Windows)   ⌘ + U

Data Editing Operations

If you need to fill the same information in other cells or rows, these shortcuts will help do it.

Fill down from cell above Ctrl + D (Windows and Mac)

This shortcut allows you to fill cells with the same information from the cell above it. So, if you’re tracking inventory and the costs for a group of products are the same, you could use this shortcut to fill in the information on the worksheet.

Fill right from the cell to the left: Ctrl + R (Windows and Mac)

If you need the same information from a cell to the left of the one you’re on, this shortcut allows you to copy the information to the cell.

Find and Replace: Ctrl + F (Windows and Mac)

If you need to find information on a worksheet, this shortcut allows you to find it, and replace it with new data if necessary.

Calculations Operations

Probably the most common calculation on an Excel worksheet is addition, followed by multiplication. This shortcut allows you to add or multiple cells or rows or insert functions.

Insert Autosum Formula: Alt + = (Windows)   ⌘ + Shift + T (Mac)

Insert Function: Shift + F3 (Windows and Mac)

There are 200 Excel shortcuts in Windows and 200 for Mac, but these 20 are probably the most popular and frequently used shortcuts for people who use the application at work.

How to Memorize Excel Shortcuts

excel shortcuts on green background

Image via Udemy

The way to learn anything is by doing it. While some people are visual learners, most people memorize physical tasks better by doing them and using shortcuts on a keyboard is a physical task.

Some of the shortcuts used in Excel are also applicable to other Microsoft applications. For instance, you can use the find and replace shortcut, Ctrl + F, with MS Word. A new word document can also be opened in MS Word by using the shortcut Ctrl + N. Using F7 allows you to spellcheck on Excel and MS Word.

The duplication of some of the shortcuts can make them easier to learn and apply to applications. However, if you need more guidance as you learn shortcuts for Excel, there are other resources.

Laminated Cards

Although many of the shortcuts are easy to learn, some of them may be harder because you don’t use the function or formula very often. Instead of hunting for the correct way to perform an action or looking it up on the Internet, you can purchase laminate shortcut cards and keep them on your computer.

The laminated cards include all the shortcuts for both Windows and Mac computers listed together. Since they are laminated, the cards can last for as long as you need it. The cards are available from online retailers or stores that sell office supplies.

Online Classes

If you want to learn more about Excel, including the shortcuts, several websites offer Excel tutorials or classes. The website corporatefinancialinstitutite.com offers the free Excel Crash Course that includes learning the shortcuts, functions, formulas and other tips.

The site excelexposure.com also offers free Excel lessons and has a free shortcut tip sheet available on their site. There are several other websites that also offer free Excel courses or tutorials that include learning the shortcuts you use every day.

Write Shortcuts Down

Since you may only use a few of the shortcuts, write down those you use the most to help you learn them. Writing things down helps many people remember information better than just reading it. A study published in Psychology Today says that writing down information boosts memory and the ability to retain concepts.

Write the shortcuts you use most horizontally on a piece of paper, cut it out and then tape it to the top of your monitor. It can be used as a reference in case you need it, but you will probably retain many of them after you’ve written them and used them at work every day.

Learning the shortcuts that you don’t use often can be more difficult, but if you print out a tip sheet or buy the laminated sheets, you can keep them nearby for reference when and if they are needed. Some of them you may not ever use, but it is better to have the information nearby in case you need it.

By learning Excel shortcuts, such as the 20 listed above, you will be able to produce spreadsheets faster and more accurately than you did before. Using a mouse and the ribbon to complete actions on a worksheet takes more time, and if you are unsure of how to perform an action on Excel, it can be inaccurate.

However, by taking the time to learn the shortcuts you use the most, you could be confident that you’re performing the right and your work will be more precise.

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