Excel Shortcuts Everyone Should Know

Efficiency and efficacy is every manager’s dream.

It’s these two things that separate the average joe and a full-fledged professional in the workspace.

One element present in almost every workspace is the spreadsheet — Microsoft Excel is one of the more well-known varieties. Many professionals working in productive spaces deal with them every day.

According to a study by Datarails, a spreadsheet management system, there are over 1.5 billion spreadsheet users worldwide; that’s for Excel alone. Suffice to say, every professional working in this day and age should at least know the bare fundamentals of working with spreadsheets as Datarails also found that 70% of a company’s budget planning and 80% of a typical organization’s financial reports are recorded and analyzed in spreadsheets.

Taking Excel skills to the next level is more accessible than what people often think. To augment a professional’s efficiency and efficacy as they work, it merely takes memorizing a few keyboard shortcuts to get the job done.

Disclaimer: For Mac Users, assume ‘CTRL’ to be ‘command,’ Alt is ‘option.’

Copy and Paste

These two are the kings and queens of keyboard shortcuts. This is the basics of the basics. It allows users to move data from one place to another by copying an element of a given file and paste it onto a different location. To do this, press CTRL+C to copy and CTRL+V to paste (command+C and Command+V for MAC users).

Make changes to a selected cell.

One of the most common errors that hold excel users back is the constant re-typing of data in an already filled cell. It is often forgotten that it’s easier to click on the cell that needs editing and press the F2 button to edit a cell.

Insert the SUM() Function Automatically

Formulas are the bread and butter of every Excel user. Technically speaking, it’s the first step a user can take to go from novice to intermediate — and all that starts here: the SUM () Function. This function allows you to shift + click on a couple of other cells and sum them all up in one particular cell in the sheet. To access this shortcut, press ALT + Enter.

Autofit and Resize Cells

This is more of a shortcut sequence. ALT + H + O + I are the buttons to know, and these are not pressed simultaneously. It’s ALT + H, followed by ALT + O, then finally, ALT + I.

ALT + H auto navigates to the home tab, ALT + O auto-selects the format menu, then ALT + I chooses the autofit option, which resizes the columns so that it would allow the users to see the entirety of the content in every cell.

Move Between Worksheets

Dealing with multiple spreadsheets could be an absolute ordeal. To move through them quickly, you can press CTRL + PgUp to go to the following spreadsheets. And CRTL + PgDn to go to the previous worksheet.

To insert a hyperlink, the text you want to link an external source to must be highlighted first. After that, press CTRL + K to open the panel where you can paste or type in your desired URL.

Replace Words

Typically called the ‘Find and Replace function, this shortcut will allow you to locate specific words in the spreadsheet and replace them with a different word or element. To do this, press CTRL + H and fill out the mini-window that pops up.


Here are other shortcuts that are sure to help you out in a bind:

  • CTRL + Shift + &: Applies border to cells
  • CTRL + B: Bold/unbold text
  • Italicize/un-italicize text: CTRL + I
  • Underline text: CTRL + U 
  • Remove cell borders: CTRL + Shift + _
  • General style number: CTRL + Shift + ~
  • Percentage style a number: CTRL + Shift + %
  • Number style: CTRL + Shift + !
  • Open another workbook: CTRL + F12
  • Select the entire column: CTRL + Spacebar
  • Select the entire row: Shift + Spacebar
  • Select all: CTRL + A

Here are the most used Shortcuts:

  • Close a workbook: CTRL + W
  • Open a workbook: CTRL + W
  • Go to the Home tab: Alt + H
  • Save a workbook: CTRL + S
  • Copy: CTRL + C
  • Paste: CTRL + V
  • Undo: CTRL + Z
  • Remove cell contents: Delete
  • Choose a fill color: Alt + H + H

There are mountains of other shortcuts that make Excel life easier for its users. 

The journey towards efficiency and efficacy is a perilous one. Through mastery of spreadsheet fundamentals and learning these key shortcuts, however, it is guaranteed to make the venture a bit less excruciating, at least.

Like this article? Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for more content like this.