Five Really Useful Excel Keyboard Shortcuts

These keyboard shortcuts will help you to things in Excel that are difficult or time-consuming to do any other way.

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These keyboard shortcuts will help you to things in Excel that are difficult or time-consuming to do any other way.Most Excel users use some of Excel’s shortcuts frequently, like F9Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V.

However, Excel offers other shortcuts that are nearly as useful. Here are five of them that aren’t as well-known, and that I use almost daily. I think you’ll find them worth remembering:

1. Excel Shortcut to Get Help for a Worksheet Function

Suppose you need to read the help topic for a worksheet function, say the MATCH function. When you type…

=match(

…in your formula bar, you’ll see something like this:

Excel shortcut to get help for a worksheet function.

Press Ctrl+a or click the icon where the red arrow points to launch the Function Arguments dialog for the function. This dialog gives you a form that you can fill in for each argument. The dialog also provides short help for the function and for each argument.

If you want more extensive help about the function, click the hyperlinked “Help on this function” text, as shown in the following shortcut.

2. Excel Shortcut to Get Help in a Worksheet Formula

Suppose your workbook has a formula that doesn’t seem to be working how you think it should. So, perhaps, one of its functions isn’t doing what you think it does. This shortcut offers an easy way to check any functions in the formula in your active cell.

In your formula bar, click on the function you want to check. Here, for example…

To get help on a worksheet function, first click on its name.

…I clicked on the OFFSET function, and then I clicked the Insert Function button. When I did so, Excel displayed the Function Arguments dialog:

Excel displays the Function Arguments dialog when you click on the fx button.

In addition to telling us about the argument for the active edit box in the dialog, it tells us in this case that OFFSET is a volatile function. And also, if we click on the Help on this function link in the bottom-left corner, Excel will launch the full help topic about the function.

3. Excel Shortcuts to Change Cell Borders

Excel offers two related keyboard shortcuts that are extremely useful for working with cell borders.

First, to remove all borders from the selected area(s), of your worksheet, press:
Ctrl + Shift + – (minus)

Second, to apply an outside border to the selected area(s) of your worksheet, press:
Ctrl + Shift + 7

Together, these two shortcuts give you a very quick way to remove old borders and add new ones with a quick command from your keyboard.

4. Excel Shortcut to Format the Selected Object

This is the second of my two favorite shortcuts…

To launch the Properties or the Format dialog for the selected object (a cell, a drawing object, a chart object, etc.), type: Ctrl + 1

This shortcut is particularly necessary in charts, when it’s sometimes difficult to right-click an object in order to launch its Properties dialog. So, if necessary, select any object in the chart, push the up or down arrow—or the left or right arrow for finer control—until you select the object you want to format. Then type Ctrl + 1 to launch the Properties dialog for the selected object.

5. Excel Shortcut to Check the Accuracy of a Range Name or Other Cell Reference

Suppose you’ve written a formula that uses a range name that returns a cell reference, or a formula that uses a function that returns a cell reference (like the OFFSET or INDEX functions).  And suppose you now want to check that the reference actually points to the area you think it does.

For example, suppose you enter this formula…

=SUM(OFFSET(MyData,1,0,2))

…in a cell and you want to check that the OFFSET function really is returning the area you want to sum. To do so…

1. In your formula bar, select the text that returns the reference you want to check, like this:

First step to check the accuracy of a range name or other cell reference

2. Press Ctrl + C to copy the selected text.

3. Press Esc to return to the Ready mode.

4. Press Ctrl + G or F5 to launch the Go To dialog.

5. Press Ctrl + V to paste your copied text into the Reference edit box of the Go To dialog.

6. Choose OK.

When you do so, Excel selects the range to which the reference points. Here, for example, it would select the range A3:A4.

By the way, whenever you use the Go To dialog to select a new range, Excel sets up the range you’ve just left as the default range. Therefore, if you want to return to your original range, press Ctrl + G, Enter. To toggle back, press Ctrl + GEnter again…and so on.