• Anita Chastain, MBA

10 Easy (and Overlooked) Excel Tips

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Want to make your time using Excel easier and less stressful? Check out these 10 Excel tips. The tips save time and make your spreadsheet tasks easier.

These Excel tips are some of the most popular and useful tips based on feedback from students in my Excel classes. The reason these are so popular is that they're easy to use and they apply to common tasks or problems.

10 Excel Tips to Make Your Work Easier

1. Press Alt and the equal sign (Alt =) to insert the SUM function in a cell. Don't forget that Excel will look above the active cell first to see if there are any cell values to add. If there are at least two cells, Excel will select those cells for the SUM range. If there is only one (or no) cell above the active cell, Excel will select the cells to the left for the SUM range.

2. Press function key F2 to "open" a cell for editing. The F2 key puts the cell in "edit" mode, which allows you to edit the contents of the cell. If you don't use F2 to put the cell in edit mode, you would have to double click on the cell or click in the formula bar before you could edit the cell. Pressing the F2 key is easier and faster than using the mouse to double click or click in the formula bar.

3. Add a bullet to a cell by pressing Alt 7 on your numeric keypad. Hold down the Alt key and number 7 on your numeric keypad (not the number row above the letters on your keyboard). This technique assumes you are using a full-size keyboard with the numeric keypad on the right side of the keyboard. This shortcut will also work if you have a laptop with a built-in numeric keyboard to the right of the keyboard. If you don't have a numeric keypad, you can also add bullets using the Symbol menu. Go to Insert>>Symbol. You can search for a symbol, or enter a character code in the dialog box. I used character code 2022, but there are other codes you can use as well, including 25CF (a large filled bullet) and 25CB (a large unfilled bullet).

4. Press CTRL PgDn or CTRL PgUp to scroll between worksheets. These shortcuts allow you to scroll right (CTRL PgDn) or left (CTRL PgUp) to select a sheet instead of using a mouse. This is a lot faster and easier than using the mouse to select a sheet. You can also right-click in the area directly to the left of the first sheet name to display a list of all sheets in the workbook. Click on any sheet using your mouse or use the up and down arrow keys to navigate to a specific sheet. Press the Enter key or choose Ok with your mouse to select the sheet.

5. Press the Alt and Enter keys at the same time to insert a line break in a cell. Use this shortcut to type multiple lines of text in a cell or break up a long formula to make it easier to read. Basically, this has the same effect as wrapping text in a cell, except that you have more control over where each line breaks.

6. Double click the Fill handle on an active cell to fill a formula down a column. When you double click on the fill handle, the formula will fill down to a blank cell. This is much faster than dragging the fill handle to the end of the range.

7. Start a formula with the plus sign on your numeric keypad instead of the equal sign on the numbers row. It's easier to create the formula using the plus sign than the equal sign because the plus sign on your numeric keypad is an easier typing reach than the equal sign. In other words, it's easier for your right hand to reach over to move to the numeric keypad and find the plus sign key, partly because the key is larger than the equal sign key on the number row.

8. Group columns that you don't need to view but you don't want to hide. Grouping allows you to collapse the columns when you don't need to see them. When you do need to see them, use the expand button to view them again. There's nothing wrong with hiding the columns, but it's inconvenient to hide and unhide them if you do need to see them periodically.

Select the columns you want to group, then choose Data>>Group>>Group on the Ribbon. To ungroup, choose Data>>Ungroup>>Clear Outline.

9. Add any command from the Ribbon to your Quick Access Toolbar. The Quick Access Toolbar is the toolbar directly above the Ribbon on the left side of the Excel window. To add a Ribbon command to the toolbar, hover over the command, right-click to display the shortcut menu, and choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar. To remove a command from the Quick Access toolbar, hover over the command, right-click, and choose Remove from Quick Access Toolbar.

10. Don't select content before typing or selecting a new range. Here's a great Excel tip to save time: Just type or select over the selected content. The selected content will be deleted automatically before you type. This includes text and numbers typed in a cell as well as cell ranges in formulas.

Summary of Excel Tips

I hope you found these ten Excel tips helpful. For more tips to help you simplify and manage work, check out other articles on the Simple Life 365 blog:

3 Tips to Reduce Work from Home Stress

Feeling Distracted? 10 Ways to Get Focused at Work

9 Ways to Avoid a Complete Meltdown When You're Stressed Out at Work