How to enter data in Excel (data entry)

Posted: June 11, 2018

Once you know how to enter data into an Excel worksheet you will be setting up tables of data in no time.

When you haven’t been shown how to enter data it can be a little tricky, so follow the steps below to learn the tips and hacks to entering your data easily into your worksheet.

Entering data into an Excel worksheet

You can enter either values (numbers and dates) or labels (text) into any cell within the worksheet.

1. Move the cell pointer to the required cell and then type the data. While you type the data you will notice that it appears both in the worksheet (in the example below, the text appears in cell A1) and in the Formula Bar.

data entry in excel

2. Press ENTER to enter the information into the cell. Your cell pointer will move down to the cell below.

Tip: If you press the ESC key instead of ENTER the data will not be entered into the cell.

Deleting and replacing data

  • To delete data select the cell containing the data and then press DELETE.
  • To replace data just type directly over the top of the existing cell contents. The new data will replace the old.

Using Undo and Redo

There will be times when you enter data only to realise you have made a bit of a mess of things.

Most times you want to back-back to where you were before the mistake was made.  If this happens you can click the fabulous “Undo” button which will undo the last thing you did.

excel data entry

You can actually keep clicking it until you get back to a point where you feel in control again.

And if you go one step to far back, you can click the Redo button to go forward a step again.  These buttons are fabulous and you use them a lot.

Overlapping data

If you enter data that will not fit the column width it will overlap into the next column. In the example below the text ‘Travel Expenses’ is entered into cell A1, however it looks as though the text is included in cells B1. With cell A1 selected we can see in the Formula bar that both words are indeed in A1.

data excel

If you are not using the column into which the text is overlapping you may leave the text as it is. However, as soon as you place text into a cell that has been overlapped it will look as if your text has been lost. In the example below, the text ‘Amount ex GST’ has been entered into cell C3. However the content of cell D3 is hiding part of the content is C3.

data in excel

By selecting C3 the entire cell’s content can be seen in the Formula Bar. In order to view the entire contents of cell C3 the width of column C needs to be adjusted.

Working with columns

The standard column width for Excel is 8.43 character spaces. You can change the column width by dragging with your mouse on the column headers, or by double clicking between two column headers.

Tip: If multiple columns require the same width, select the columns and widen one of them with the mouse. The rest will be adjusted to the same width.

Adjusting the column width

To use your mouse to adjust the column width:

1. Move your mouse pointer over the column’s right edge in the column header area. Your mouse pointer should change to a double-headed arrow.

data on excel

2. Click and drag to the right to expand, or to the left to shrink the column width to the size you require.

excel data sheet

You will now be able to see your entire text. Continue dragging until all columns are the width you require.

data in excel sheet


To quickly adjust the column width to fit the widest entry, move your mouse pointer over the lines between the column headers. When the pointer becomes a double-headed arrow double-click.

Use the same method for adjusting the height of any row. Just move the mouse pointer over the line separating the rows. When the pointer becomes a double-headed arrow, drag or double-click to adjust the row height, or double-click to set the height to fit the tallest entry.

enter data

By the way, row heights will automatically alter if the font size of data is altered.

Extra info: to set a column width to a precise measurement on the Home tab in the Cells group select Format and then select Column Width. Type the desired width in the Column Width box and then click OK to accept the new column width.

What do hash signs mean in Excel?

If you ever see a cell containing  ########  (hash signs)  it means the column isn’t wide enough to display the content. Just extend the width and the content will become visible.

Making changes to the data

Once you have entered data into your worksheet, you can edit the data in a number of ways.

  • Select the cell and then click in the Formula bar. A flashing insertion point will be placed into the bar. Use the arrow keys on the keyboard to move the insertion point. Make the changes you require and then press ENTER.
  • You may also type directly over the data in the cell with new data and then press ENTER. The new data will replace the old.
  • Double clicking a cell or pressing F2 allows you to edit the contents of the cell directly on the worksheet. Make the changes and then press ENTER to update the cell.


AutoComplete is the ability for Excel to automatically complete an entry for you.
For example, if you have typed text in the cells above as soon as you start typing a letter or two in a cell below, Excel will check the list above for a matching entry and complete the entry for you.

entering data
This can be very useful when you need to make the same entry several times.

To accept the entry press ENTER. To reject the displayed entry and type something different either ignore the entry and type right over it or press DELETE.

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