Although I tend to use my mouse a great deal when navigating around spreadsheets, there are a handful of keyboard shortcuts that I’ve found to be really helpful…

When you’re working with a large spreadsheet and want to select a data range from where you are in the spreadsheet down to the next blank row or cell, the Ctrl/Shift/down arrow shortcut is great. Here’s an example – let’s say you’re in cell A2 on this spreadsheet, and want to highlight everything in column A down to the next blank cell (row 27):

Simply hold down the Ctrl & Shift keys, and hit the down arrow. Excel highlights all the data until a blank cell is reached:

If you want to highlight this portion of the spreadsheet including columns B, C & D, continue to hold down Shift & Ctrl, and hit the right arrow button:

This section of the spreadsheet is immediately highlighted. If you want to continue to highlight the cells below this section so that all data ranges are selected, continue to hold down Ctrl & Shift and hit the down arrow. Experiment around a bit – this is a nifty shortcut and when navigating large spreadsheets it’s frankly more precise than trying to scroll down with your mouse.

Here’s a related shortcut that’s very cool. Same spreadsheet as above, but let’s assume you’re in the middle of the data range – say in cell B16 and want to highlight all the surrounding data. The Ctrl + Shift + * (numeral 8/asterisk key) will select the current range around the active cell, that is, the area defined as the largest rectangle of data surrounded by white space. Here it is in action – we’re in B16:

Simply hold down Ctrl & Shift, and hit the 8/* button and the surrounding data range is selected:

Here’s another two that are great for adding the date & current time to your spreadsheet: hold down Ctrl & Shift and hit : (semi colon & colon key) and the current time is displayed; hold down Ctrl and hit ; (the same key as the previous shortcut) and today’s date is displayed:

Try putting these to use; even if you’re a diehard mouse guy (or gal) I think you’ll enjoy using these keyboard shortcuts.

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