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Excel 2010: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald

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Moving Around the Grid

Learning how to move around the Excel grid quickly and confidently is an indispensable skill. To move from cell to cell, you have two fairly obvious choices:

  • Use the arrow keys on the keyboard. Keystrokes move you one cell at a time in any direction.

  • Click the cell with the mouse. A mouse click jumps you directly to the cell you've clicked.

As you move from cell to cell, you see the black focus box move to highlight the currently active cell.

In some cases, you might want to cover ground a little quicker. One option is to use the scrollbars at the bottom and on the right side of the window to scroll off into the uncharted regions of your worksheet. Excel also provides two more powerful features—shortcut keys and the Go To feature—which are described in the following sections.

Shortcut Keys

Excel provides a number of handy key combinations that can transport you across your worksheet in great leaps and bounds (see Table 1-1). The most useful shortcut keys include the Home key combinations, which bring you back to the beginning of a row or the top of your worksheet.

Note

Shortcut key combinations that use the + sign must be entered together. For example, "Ctrl+Home" means you hold down Ctrl and press Home at the same time. Key combinations with a comma work in sequence. For example, the key combination "End, Home" means press End first, release it, and then press Home.

Table 1-1. Shortcut keys for moving around a worksheet

Key combination

Result

→ (or Tab)

Moves one cell to the right.

← (or Shift+Tab)

Moves one cell to the left.

Moves one cell up.

↓ (or Enter)

Moves one cell down.

Page Up

Moves up one screen. Thus, if the grid shows 10 cells at a time, this key moves to a cell in the same column, 10 rows up (unless you are already at the top of the worksheet).

Page Down

Moves down one screen. Thus, if the grid shows 10 cells at a time, this key moves to a cell in the same column, 10 rows down.

Home

Moves to the first cell (column A) of the current row.

Ctrl+Home

Moves to the first cell in the top row, which is A1.

Ctrl+End (or End, Home)

Moves to the last column of the last occupied row. This cell is at the bottom-right edge of your data.

Excel also lets you cross great distances in a single bound using a Ctrl+arrow key combination. These key combinations jump to the edges of your data. Edge cells include cells that are next to other blank cells. For example, if you press Ctrl+→ while you're inside a group of cells with information in them, you'll skip to the right, over all filled cells, and stop just before the next blank cell. If you press Ctrl+→ again, you'll skip over all the nearby blank cells and land in the next cell to the right that has information in it. If there aren't any more cells with data on the right, you'll wind up on the very edge of your worksheet.

The Ctrl+arrow key combinations are useful if you have more than one table of data in the same worksheet. For example, imagine you have two tables of data, one at the top of a worksheet and one at the bottom. If you are at the top of the first table, you can use Ctrl+↓ to jump to the bottom of the first table, skipping all the rows in between. Press Ctrl+↓ again, and you leap over all the blank rows, winding up at the beginning of the second table.

The Go To Feature

If you're fortunate enough to know exactly where you need to go, you can use the Go To feature to make the jump. Go To moves to the cell address you specify. It comes in useful in extremely large spreadsheets, where just scrolling through the worksheet takes half a day.

To bring up the Go To dialog box (shown in Figure 1-8), choose Home→Editing→Find & Select→Go To. Or you can do yourself a favor and just press Ctrl+G. Enter the cell address (such as C32), and then click OK.

You'll notice that in the Go To list, cell addresses are written a little differently than the format you use when you type them in. Namely, dollar signs are added before the row number and column letter. Thus, C32 becomes $C$32, which is simply the convention that Excel uses for fixed cell references. (You'll learn much more about the different types of cell references in Chapter 8.)

Figure 1-8. You'll notice that in the Go To list, cell addresses are written a little differently than the format you use when you type them in. Namely, dollar signs are added before the row number and column letter. Thus, C32 becomes $C$32, which is simply the convention that Excel uses for fixed cell references. (You'll learn much more about the different types of cell references in Chapter 8.)

The Go To feature becomes more useful the more you use it. That's because the Go To window maintains a list of the most recent cell addresses that you've entered. In addition, every time you open the Go To window, Excel automatically adds the current cell to the list. This feature makes it easy to jump to a far-off cell and quickly return to your starting location by selecting the last entry in the list.

The Go To window isn't your only option for leaping through a worksheet in a single bound. If you look at the Home→Editing→Find & Select menu, you'll find more specialized commands that let you jump straight to cells that contains formulas, comments, conditional formatting, and other advanced Excel ingredients that you haven't learned about yet. And if you want to hunt down cells that have specific text, you need the popular Find command (Home→Editing→Find & Select→Find), which is covered on Entering data in grouped sheets.

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