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The 15 Best Shortcuts in Microsoft Excel 2013 – Improve Your Productivity

Bill Gates at the launch of the new version of Microsoft Office.
Bill Gates at the launch of the new version of Microsoft Office.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Everyone can agree that Microsoft Excel is an invaluable tool when it comes to boosting work productivity. There’s certainly more than meets the eye, and its vast functionality is just waiting to be discovered. But when there’s a deadline drawing near and your boss is breathing down your neck, it can’t hurt to know these handy shortcuts on your keyboard.


Making your way through the rows and columns in Excel can be overwhelming, but you can save yourself the time and effort of clicking on them one by one and not knowing which way to go. Here’s how tonavigate quickly in MS Excel:

  • Ctrl + * - Selects your current range or your whole dataset. This pertains to all cells in all directions until you hit a blank cell.
  • Ctrl + Page Up/Page Down - Navigates between worksheet tabs. Page Up goes to the previous worksheet while Page Down goes to the next.
  • Shift + F10 – Opens up the right-click menu where you can navigate using the arrow keys.
  • Ctrl + Arrow Keys – Moves you to the first row (Up Arrow Key) and last row (Down Arrow Key) of your data set.
  • Ctrl/Shift + Space – Selects your entire column or row. You can also use the arrow keys to expand your row and column selections.

Cell Manipulation

The cell is the life of your data file, and there’s a lot of potential in a single one. You just have to find out how to manipulate cells in MS Excel:

  • F2 – Make changes on the current cell you are in. This saves you the effort of double-clicking on an active cell just to edit its contents.
  • Alt + Enter – Lets you create a new line in a single cell. This is handy when you need to write text per line contained in one cell.
  • Alt + F1 – Inserts a chart from your data. It effectively creates a chart out of the information in your selected cells.
  • Ctrl + 1 – Opens up the cell properties dialog box. Here, you can edit your preferences like alignment, cell formatting, fill, and more.
  • Ctrl + Minus Key – Deletes your current cell’s column.
  • Ctrl + Shift + 7 – Sets a border to your cell, allowing you to better format your data.


The heart and soul of a data set are both in the formulas. Knowing how to calculate in MS Excel will have you swearing you never want to compute large quantities of data manually ever again.

  • Double-clicking on a cell’s plus sign – this may not be an actual keyboard shortcut, but it certainly makes your life easier by allowing you to repeat a certain formula and apply it to multiple cells in a column. Moving your cursor to the lower right portion of your selected cell, you can see the plus sign that appears. When you double-click on it, it populates the rest of the cells in your column by auto-computing and repeating your complicated formula.
  • Ctrl + ` - Displays formulas. This enables you to see which formulas are situated on which cells instead of just having the actual results displayed. Doing this again will hide your formulas to lessen confusion.
  • Alt + = - Sums up the data in a column. Simply go to the blank cell at the bottom of the column you wish to sum up and type Alt += to get your result.
  • Ctrl + ; - Inserts the current date. This may not be a computation per se, but it certainly is useful when you just can’t seem to find the date.


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