Excel: Keyboarding for speed

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

Advanced computer users know that once they've mastered keyboard commands, they usually can navigate menus faster with the keyboard than with a mouse. For example, you probably learned long ago that pressing Ctrl+C to copy and Ctrl+V to paste is quicker than clicking on the menus to accomplish the same task. Don't stop there. Excel's shortcut menus can speed up dozens of common commands. With speed in mind, presented below are a few of my favorite Excel keyboard commands. How many do you already know?

  • Email workbook as a PDF attachment (Alt+FHEF). To email your entire workbook as a PDF attachment, press the Alt key and type F, H, E, F, then enter the email address and press the Send button.
  • Merge and center text (Alt+HMC). To merge and center text, highlight the cells you want to merge, then press the Alt key and press H, M, C.
  • Insert a picture (Alt+NC). To insert a new picture into an Excel workbook, press the Alt key, press N, C, and then navigate to and select the desired picture and press Enter.
  • Insert the current date (Ctrl+;). To insert the current date, select any cell and press Ctrl+;. This action inserts a fixed date as a number. If you want a date that always reflects the current date, enter the function =TODAY(), and the date will change automatically in sync with your computer's calendar.
  • Print more quickly (Ctrl+F2). Pressing Ctrl+F2 will launch Excel's Print screen.
  • Paste Special (Ctrl+Alt+V). Pressing Ctrl+Alt+V will launch the Paste Special dialog box.
  • Format faster (Ctrl+1). Pressing Ctrl+1 launches the Format Cells dialog box.
  • Access the keyboard menu (Alt). Pressing the Alt key pops up the keyboard selections that correspond to Excel's main menus (an example of which is pictured below); the commands can then be executed by typing the corresponding letter(s).

About the author

J. Carlton Collins (carlton@asaresearch.com) is a technology consultant, a CPE instructor, and a JofA contributing editor.

Note: Instructions for Microsoft Office in “Technology Q&A” refer to the 2007 through 2016 versions, unless otherwise specified.

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