A cell must be selected, or be active, in order to enter information in it. To make a cell active, simply move to it with the arrow keys. An active cell visually has a dark border around it. The cell reference is shown visually to the left of the Formula Bar (below the Ribbon).
Text, numbers or a formula may be typed in a cell on a spreadsheet.
It is important to enter only one piece of information into each cell to increase the options for manipulating the data. It also minimizes the possibility of errors in calculations.
For example, when entering a list of names into a spreadsheet, putting the first name and surname in separate cells gives you the option of sorting on either piece of information.
It is also important in lists to use adjoining cells and avoid leaving gaps between the data. Automatic calculations are affected by blank cells within a list, causing errors in results.
When entering data, text is automatically aligned to the left and numbers automatically align to the right. Visually, this makes it easier to tell them apart. But alignment can be adjusted, if required.
When a cell is active, you can type into it. As you type, the text appears in both the active cell and the Formula Bar. If the cell already has information in it, then typing will overwrite the cell’s contents.
To edit a cell, press F2. This positions the cursor at the end of the cell contents allowing you to edit the data.
To complete an entry, press Enter or Tab, or move to another cell.
To cancel the entry, press Escape.
Excel has several features to make it easier to complete your spreadsheet by automatically filling in the contents.
If the first few characters that you type in a cell match an existing entry in that column, Excel automatically enters the remaining characters for you.
- To accept an automatic entry, press Enter.
- To replace the automatically entered characters, continue typing.
- To delete the automatically entered characters, press Backspace.
Excel automatically completes only those entries that contain text or a combination of text and numbers. Entries that contain only numbers, dates, or times are not automatically completed.
Autofill – Copy
Excel can also quickly fill a number of cells with the same contents as an adjacent cell using the Fill Down or Fill Right features. Fill Down copies the contents and format of the topmost cell of a selected range into the cells below it. Fill Right copies the contents of the leftmost cell of a selected range into the cells to the right of it.
To select several adjacent cells, select the first cell, hold down Shift and arrow to the last cell.
To copy contents into a number of cells below the entry, select the range of cells and press Control + D.
To copy contents into a number of cells to the right of the entry, press Control + R.
Autofill – Series
Excel can also help to fill in a series of numbers automatically to save typing in each number in turn.
To fill in a series of numbers:
- Enter the first number in the series in the first cell.
- Select the range of cells to be auto filled, including the first cell (select the first cell, hold down Shift and arrow to the last cell).
- Press Alt + H for the Home tab and then press the letter F, then the letter I for the fill menu (or Tab to Fill).
- Arrow down to Series and press Enter.
- Press Enter again to auto fill a series incremented by 1, or adjust the settings for a different increment.