10 Essential Techniques on How to Enter Data in Excel

Posted January 29, 2024

Welcome to the exciting world of Excel, your go-to tool for handling data with ease and precision!

Our guide, "How to Enter Data in Excel," is your fun and easy ticket to becoming a data entry whiz in Excel! Whether you're just starting out or already a pro, this guide has all the tips and tricks you need to master Excel's data entry magic.

Enter Data in Excel

Think of Excel as an ocean of possibilities. Entering data in Excel might be hard at first, but don't worry! Our guide has easy-to-follow techniques that will help you master it quickly.

Excel is more than just software. It's a way to be efficient, organised, and handle information. From starting by typing in your first cell to automating complex data patterns, there's something here for everyone.

So, let's dive into the top 10 essential techniques that will transform you into a data entry wizard. Grab your data, roll up your sleeves, and let's get started!

1. Efficient Manual Data Entry in Excel

Skill Level: Beginner

Let's kick things off with the basics, perfect for an Excel beginner or anyone needing a quick refresher. Entering data into Excel is as simple as clicking and typing. But simplicity doesn't mean it's not powerful.

Follow these easy steps to begin your journey into the world of Excel data entry:

1. Open Your Workbook: Launch Excel and open a new or existing workbook where you want to enter your data.

2. Select a Cell: Use your mouse to click on the cell where you wish to enter the data.

3. Start Typing into the Cell: Now, type in whatever data you want in that cell - text, numbers, or dates. As you type, you'll notice the data appearing in the cell and the formula bar at the top.

Image shows the text 'Maintenance' in cell A1 and also in the Formula Bar in Excel.

4. Move to the Next Cell: Once you've entered your data in a cell. Press ENTER  if you want to move downwards to the next cell. This is super handy when you’re entering data in a column. Press TAB if you want to move to the right, perfect for filling out a row.

5. Adjust Column width for visibility: After entering your data, you may need to adjust the column width to ensure all the data is visible. To do this, hover over the column header's right edge until the cursor changes to a column-adjusting icon, then click and drag to resize.

The image displays an Excel worksheet with the text "Maintenance" in cell A1. The column width is being adjusted to 11.09 (129 pixels).

As you drag, the column width will expand, revealing more of your data. Keep dragging until all the content in your cells is fully visible and comfortably spaced. If you go too far, you can always drag back to the left to reduce the width.

6. Edit the Data If Needed: Did you make a typo? No problem. Double-click the cell, and you can edit or replace what's there. To delete the data, select the cell and then press the DELETE key.

7. Repeat the Process (if required): Continue these steps for each piece of data you want to enter. Click, type, and then use ENTER or TAB to move around.

And there you have it – the basic but mighty process of entering data into Excel. This simple method is the foundation of all Excel data management. If you're just starting out check out our post 'Data Entry in Excel: A Beginner's Step-by-Step Guide'. By mastering this, you're on your way to becoming an Excel pro!

2. Essentials on How to Enter in Excel Cell

Skill level: Beginner

Once you have a good grasp on the basics of data entry in Excel, it's time to learn more advanced techniques. One useful trick is to use ALT + ENTER to insert line breaks within a cell.

This is particularly handy when you need to format longer text in a more readable way. For example, if data obscures a column heading in an adjoining cell, you can use this trick to make the text easier to read.

For example, in the image below, in the Formula bar you can see the content of cell D3, but the content of E3 covers part of the heading. Pressing ALT + ENTER in a cell moves hidden text to a new line for easy viewing.

The image is a screenshot of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The selected cell D3 is empty and its selection is indicated in the formula bar. Above cell D3, the formula bar is annotated with a comment pointing out "The Formula bar shows the content of cell D3." The cells in row 3 are labeled "Day," "Month," "Time," and "Service Du," with the last heading cut off by text from cell E3 that reads "Completed," which overlaps into cell D3's space. This overlap is highlighted by another comment stating "However, the content of E3 is covering part of the heading." The spreadsheet grid shows rows numbered 1 to 7 and columns labeled A to F.

1. Double-click the Cell for Multi-Line Text: Start by double-clicking on the cell where you want to enter or already have entered the text that needs line breaks.

2. Place the Cursor where you need the break: If starting with a blank cell, type the text for the first line. If the cell already has text, place the cursor exactly where you want the new line to begin using the arrow keys to navigate the text.

The image shows a snippet of an Excel spreadsheet focusing on columns C, D, and E. Column D's header is highlighted, with the text "Service Duration" written in cell D3, which is selected as indicated by the green border around the cell. The cursor is placed in front of the word 'Duration'. Column C's header, just to the left, contains the text "Time" in cell C3. The headers of columns C and D are shaded, implying they are selected or formatted differently from the other cells, which remain unshaded. No text is visible in column E, and the rest of the cells in the image are empty.

3. Insert a Line Break using Alt + Enter: Once your cursor is in the correct position, hold the ALT key (‘Option’ key on Mac) and press ENTER. You'll see that the text now drops down to a new line within the same cell.

The image is a screenshot of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet showing a portion of the grid with columns C, D, E, and F. Cell D3 is selected, containing the text "Service Duration" which is wrapped within the cell. A speech bubble is pointing to this cell, with the instruction "ALT + ENTER will drop the text to a new line in the cell," indicating a tip on how to format text within an Excel cell. The column headers are visible with "Time" in cell C3, and the other cells in the image are blank.

4. Enter the new line of text and Repeat if More Lines are Needed: You can repeat the ALT + ENTER combination as many times as necessary to create additional line breaks. This allows you to format the text in the cell just like you would in a word processor, but with the convenience and functionality of Excel. Once you have all lines completed, press ENTER.

5. Adjust the Row Height for Visibility: After inserting the line breaks, you might need to adjust the row height to make all the lines visible. You can do this manually by dragging the row boundary or using the 'Format' options for more precise control.

The image is a screenshot of a Microsoft Excel worksheet. It shows row 3 selected, with its height being adjusted as indicated by a tooltip that reads "Height: 29.00 (58 pixels)." The row contains the entries "Day," "Month," "Time," "Service Duration," and "Completed" in cells A3 to E3, respectively. A speech bubble is pointing to the row number with the instruction "Click and drag the bottom row line to increase row height," suggesting an action to make the full text in the cells visible, especially useful for cells with wrapped text like "Service Duration."

6. Adjust the Formula Bar Height for Visibility: After inserting the line breaks, you may also need to adjust the Formula bar height to make all the lines visible.

The image shows a screenshot of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with the formula bar expanded. The cell D3 is selected and the formula bar displays "Service Duration," indicating that the content of cell D3 is "Service Duration." A cursor with a two-sided vertical arrow is positioned at the bottom edge of the formula bar, with an accompanying speech bubble instruction stating "Click and drag to increase the height of the Formula bar to see multiple lines." This suggests that the user can adjust the formula bar height to view more content if a cell contains multiple lines of text. The columns are labeled A through F, and row 3 contains the headers "Day," "Month," "Time," "Service Duration," and "Completed" from columns A to E.

By mastering ALT + ENTER, you can transform a cell into a mini text editor, making your spreadsheets more informative and easier to read. Check out more tips and advanced data entry techniques within a single cell in our Alt + Enter and Wrap Text post.

3. Optimising Copy and Paste in Excel

Skill Level: Beginner

Bringing external data into your Excel sheet can add a whole new dimension to your work, whether a list from a Word table or a snippet from another Excel file, incorporating this data into your spreadsheet can be done in a few simple steps.

Here's how you can seamlessly integrate external data into your Excel worksheet:

1. Locate and Select the Data: Begin by going to the source of your data, for example, another Excel spreadsheet. Carefully select the data you wish to copy. You can do this by clicking and dragging your mouse over the data, including everything you need.

2. Press Ctrl + C to Copy the Data: Once your data is selected, right-click on the highlighted area and choose 'Copy.' Alternatively, you can use a keyboard shortcut – Ctrl + C on Windows or Command + C on Mac.

3. Switch to where you’d like the data placed: Now, open or switch to the Excel workbook where you want this data to go. Navigate to the spot in your spreadsheet where you'd like the data placed.

4. Select the Starting Cell: Click on the cell where you want your copied data to begin. This is important because Excel will paste the data starting from this cell and fill it down and to the right.

5. Press Ctrl + V to Paste the Data: Right-click on the selected cell and choose 'Paste.' You can also use the keyboard shortcut – Ctrl + V on Windows or Command + V on Mac. Your external data will now appear in your Excel sheet.

6. Adjust Column Widths and Format (if required): After pasting, you may notice that some cells or columns don't display the data correctly due to width constraints. Adjust the column widths to ensure all your data is visible and neatly organised.

Voila! You've successfully integrated external data into your Excel worksheet. This method is a basic yet powerful tool in your Excel skill set, allowing you to effortlessly enter data. If you're keen to become a copy and past 'ninja', click here for more super helpful tutorials and tips!

4. Data Replication Using the Fill Handle in Excel

Skill level: Beginner

The fill handle in Excel is a powerful little tool! It's that tiny square at the bottom-right corner of a selected cell, and it's there to make your data entry faster and more efficient.

Let's walk through how you can use this feature with an example:

1. Start with Your Initial Data: Let’s say you have a cell, A4, with the number '1' in it. This cell is where your journey with the fill handle begins.

2. Select the Cell with the Fill Handle: Click on cell A4. Notice the small square at the bottom-right corner of the cell border –your fill handle.

The image shows an Excel spreadsheet with cell A4 selected, containing the number "1." A speech bubble highlights the small square at the cell's bottom-right, known as the fill handle, used for copying or extending values to adjacent cells. Column headers "Day," "Month," "Time," "Service Duration," and "Completed" appear in row 3, and rows are numbered 1 to 9.

3. Drag the Fill Handle: Place the mouse pointer over the fill handle. Once the pointer is displayed as a black cross, click and drag it over adjacent cells where you want the data to be copied. For our example, drag it down to cell A8. This action tells Excel that you want to replicate the value of cell A4 in cells A5, A6, A7, and A8.

The image shows an Excel spreadsheet where cell A4 is selected, containing the number "1." The cell's fill handle, a small square at the bottom-right corner of the cell, is visible and appears ready to be used. The column headers "Day," "Month," "Time," and "Service Duration" are visible in row 3, while rows are numbered 1 to 9. The spreadsheet indicates that the user clicked and dragged the fill handle down to cell A8 to copy the value of cell A4 into cells A5 through A8

4. Release and Observe the Magic: After you release the mouse button, Excel fills the selected cells with the data. In our example, cells A4 through A8 will now all display the number '1'.

The image shows an Excel spreadsheet where cells A4 to A8 contain the number "1." The column headers "Day," "Month," "Time," and "Service Duration" are visible in row 3, while rows are numbered 1 to 8.

5. But Wait, There’s More: The fill handle isn’t just for duplicating data; it’s also intelligent enough to recognise patterns. For instance, if you had '1' in A4 and '2' in A5, by selecting A4 and A5 and then using the fill handle on these cells, dragging down to A8 would fill the cells with an increasing sequence of numbers – 3, 4, and 5 in A6, A7, and A8 respectively.

The image shows an Excel spreadsheet where a series is being created using the fill handle. Cells A4 and A5 are highlighted, containing the numbers "1" and "2" respectively, indicating that a series is being established. The fill handle, visible at the bottom-right corner of cell A5, is being used to drag the series down to cell A8, as shown by the mouse icon and the number "5" previewing the series' end value. The column headers "Day," "Month," "Time," "Service Duration," and "Completed" are visible in row 3, and rows are numbered 1 to 9

6. Copying Formulas: The fill handle isn’t limited to values; it also works wonders with formulas. If A1 had a formula, say '=B1+C1', dragging the fill handle down would copy the formula to the other cells, automatically adjusting the cell references based on their relative position.

7. Customise as Needed: You can control what the fill handle does. After dragging it, a small icon appears next to the filled cells. Clicking this icon opens a menu with options like 'Copy Cells,' 'Fill Formatting Only,' or 'Fill Without Formatting,' giving you more control over the outcome.

The image shows an Excel spreadsheet with the fill handle feature in use. Cells A4 through A8 are filled with a series of numbers from 1 to 5. The 'Auto Fill Options' menu is open next to cell A8 where the fill handle was used, displaying options including "Copy Cells," "Fill Series," "Fill Formatting Only," "Fill Without Formatting," and "Flash Fill."  The column headers "Day," "Month," "Time," and "Service Duration" are visible in row 3, and the rows are numbered 3 to 14.

5. Advanced Tasks with the Fill Handle in Excel

Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced

In Excel, the fill handle is not just a tool, it's a wizard's wand for data magic. The fill handle’s more advanced features elevate data entry to an art form. Let’s explore how to use the fill handle for a series of more complex patterns:

Using the Fill Handle for Series

1. Start with a Pattern: Suppose you enter 'January' in cell B4. This is the beginning of a pattern you want Excel to recognise and replicate.

2. Select and Drag the Fill Handle: Click on cell B4 to select it. Drag the fill handle down or across the cells where you want the series to continue. In our example, we will drag down.

3. Observe the Series Unfold: As you drag, Excel intelligently fills in the subsequent months - 'February' in B5, 'March' in B6, and so on. This also works for days and years. Give it a try!

The image shows an Excel spreadsheet where the selected cell contains the text "January." The fill handle at the bottom-right corner of the cell is being used to create a fill series, as indicated by the preview box showing "May" just below cell B5. This suggests that the user is dragging the fill handle down from "January" to automatically fill the subsequent months. Rows are numbered 1 to 5 and the column headers "Day," "Month," "Time," and "Service Duration" are visible.

Using the Fill Handle for Custom Lists

Custom lists in Excel are predefined sequences of values for efficient data entry. For example, if you create a custom list with ratings like "Excellent", "Very Good", "Good", "Fair", "Poor", Excel can automatically complete these values in your specified order. This feature saves time and ensures consistency in data handling.

1. Create a Custom List: To create a custom list, go to the ‘File’ tab, ‘Excel Options’, select ‘Advanced’, scroll down to the 'General' section, and click 'Edit Custom Lists.' Click into the ‘List entries’ box and type your custom list.

The image shows the 'Custom Lists' dialog box in Excel with a focus on the 'List entries' text area. The entries "Excellent," "Very Good," "Good," "Fair," "Poor" are listed in sequence, with a speech bubble instructing to "Type the Custom List entries and then click OK." The dialog box includes options to add or delete the entries, as well as buttons to import lists from cells, and 'OK' and 'Cancel' buttons at the bottom.

2. Insert a Custom List using the fill handle: Once you've created your custom list, you can use it in your worksheet, like any other series. Start by typing the first item of your custom list in a cell. Then, use the fill handle to drag down or across different cells.

The image shows an Excel spreadsheet with cell A3 selected, containing the word "Excellent." The fill handle at the bottom right corner of cell A3 is being dragged across to cell E3, as indicated by the preview box showing "Poor" at the cell where the fill series is set to end. This demonstrates the use of the fill handle to automatically insert values from a custom list into the spreadsheet.

Excel will automatically continue the sequence based on the custom list you've created, populating the cells with the next items in your list.

The image shows an Excel spreadsheet with a series of cells in row 3 filled with a custom list. The cells from A3 to E3 contain the values "Excellent," "Very Good," "Good," "Fair," and "Poor" respectively, showing that Excel has automatically filled in the sequence based on the predefined custom list. The fill handle at the bottom right corner of cell E3 suggests that the sequence was completed using this feature. The columns are labeled A to F, and the rows are numbered 1 to 6.

6. Streamlining with Flash Fill in Excel

Skill level: Intermediate

Excel's Flash Fill feature is a powerful time-saver, automating data entry tasks by recognising and replicating patterns in your data.

It's perfect for quickly formatting or rearranging data and transforming manual tasks into swift, automated processes. Let's explore how Flash Fill can effortlessly streamline your data entry in Excel.

1. Manual Input for Pattern Recognition: Let’s say you have a column of full names and want to extract the first names in a new column. Type the first name from the first cell in the adjacent column.

2. Activate Flash Fill: After typing the first example, go to the next cell in the new column. Then, go to the 'Data' tab on the Ribbon and click 'Flash Fill,' or press Ctrl + E.

The image shows an Excel spreadsheet where Flash Fill is being demonstrated. Column A has the header "Name" with entries "John Doe," "Jane Doe," "Anne Example," and "Teddy Bear" in cells A5 to A8. Column B has the header "First Name," with the entry "John" in cell B5. The cell B6 is selected, and a speech bubble is pointing to this cell with the instruction "Press Ctrl + E," indicating the shortcut to activate the Flash Fill feature to automatically extract and fill the first names from the full names listed in column A.

3. Watch Excel Work Its Magic: Excel recognises the pattern from your manual input and automatically fills the rest of the cells in the column with the first names extracted from the full names.

The image displays an Excel spreadsheet where Flash Fill has been used to separate first names from full names. Column A, labeled "Name," lists full names: "John Doe," "Jane Doe," "Anne Example," and "Teddy Bear" in cells A5 through A8. Column B, labeled "First Name," shows the results of Flash Fill with the corresponding first names "John," "Jane," "Anne," and "Teddy" filled in cells B5 through B8, illustrating Excel's ability to recognize and replicate patterns in data entry.

4. Fill Handle and Flash Fill: After typing the first and second example, click and drag over both and then use the fill handle to copy the content to adjacent cells. The content will be copied.

The image displays an Excel spreadsheet where the fill handle is being used in conjunction with Flash Fill. Column A is labeled "Name," with the names "John Doe," "Jane Doe," "Anne Example," and "Teddy Bear" listed from cells A5 to A8. In column B, labeled "First Name," "John" and "Jane" have been typed into cells B5 and B6. The fill handle at the bottom right corner of cell B6 is depicted as being dragged down to copy the content to adjacent cells, with a preview of "Jane" showing at cell B8. This demonstrates the use of the fill handle to replicate the Flash Fill function's pattern recognition across multiple cells.

Now click Auto Fill Options and select Flash Fill.

The image shows an Excel spreadsheet with a partially completed Flash Fill operation. In column A, labeled "Name," there are four full names listed. In column B, labeled "First Name," the first two cells correctly show the first names "John" and "Jane," but the third and fourth cells incorrectly replicate "John" instead of continuing the pattern. A context menu titled "Auto Fill Options" is open near these cells with the options "Copy Cells," "Fill Formatting Only," "Fill Without Formatting," and "Flash Fill," with the cursor hovering over "Flash Fill," indicating the next step to correct the Flash Fill operation.

And Excel will do the rest!

The image shows an Excel spreadsheet where Flash Fill has successfully been applied. Column A is labeled "Name" and includes the full names "John Doe," "Jane Doe," "Anne Example," and "Teddy Bear" in cells A5 through A8. Column B is labeled "First Name" and correctly displays the extracted first names "John," "Jane," "Anne," and "Teddy" in cells B5 through B8, respectively. The fill handle at the bottom right corner of cell B8 indicates that the Flash Fill feature has been used to automatically fill in these first names based on the pattern established by the user.

By harnessing the power of the Fill handle and Flash Fill, you transform how data is populated in your sheets. Whether extending a simple series or deciphering and applying complex data patterns, these tools make you the master of efficient and intelligent data entry.

7. Simplifying with Text to Columns in Excel

Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Excel's 'Text to Columns' is a remarkably efficient tool for splitting the contents of one cell into multiple cells.

This feature is handy when dealing with data clumped together, such as full names, addresses, or any combined information, and you want to separate it for better analysis and readability.

Let’s dive into how to use this feature with a practical example:

1. Prepare Your Data: Imagine you have a list of place names in a single column, formatted as ‘City, Country’. For instance, cell A1 contains 'Syndey, Australia.

2. Select the Cell(s): Click on the cell, or if you have a series of similar data, drag your mouse to select the entire range where you want to apply this feature.

3. Access Text to Columns: Go to the 'Data' tab on the ribbon at the top of Excel. In the 'Data Tools' group, click 'Text to Columns'. This opens the 'Convert Text to Columns Wizard'.

The image displays the 'Convert Text to Columns Wizard - Step 1 of 3' in Excel, with the 'Text to Columns' option selected from the 'Data' tab. It shows a spreadsheet behind the wizard window with column A labeled 'Location' and a list of cities followed by countries from cells A2 to A7. The wizard has a section labeled 'Original data type' with the option 'Delimited' selected, suggesting that the data is separated by characters like commas or tabs. There's a preview window at the bottom showing how the data will appear after conversion. The wizard includes 'Next', 'Cancel', and 'Finish' buttons, guiding the user through the process of converting text to columns.

4. Choose the File Type: In the wizard, you’ll first choose the data type. For our example, select 'Delimited' –a specific character, such as a comma or a space, separates your data.

5. Set Delimiters: Click 'Next', and then choose the delimiter that matches your data. In the case of 'Sydney, Australia', you would select 'Comma'. If your data is separated by spaces, tabs, or other characters, you’d select those instead. Click ‘Next’.

6. Preview and Adjust: The wizard will preview how your data will appear. If it looks correct, proceed. If not, go back and adjust the delimiters.

7. Finish and Review: Click 'Finish', and your data will be split into separate columns. 'Sydney’ will be in one column, and 'Australia' in the next.

8. Remove unnecessary spaces: After splitting, ensure unnecessary spaces from the split data. A good understanding of the TRIM function is super helpful here.

This technique is particularly handy for cleaning and organising data in a less-than-ideal format. With 'Text to Columns', you turn a messy, congested cell into neatly organised, individual pieces of data, ready for analysis or reporting

8. Quick Data Entry Utilising Tables in Excel

Skill level: Intermediate to Advanced

Excel tables revolutionise data entry by offering a structured, efficient approach to managing information.

They simplify the process with features like automatic formula extension and easy filtering, transforming your data into a dynamic and organised system.
This streamlined functionality not only enhances the clarity of your data but also boosts your productivity in Excel.

1. Prepare Your Data: Let's say you have a list of monthly expenses. You have columns for 'Category', 'Description', and 'Amount'. This data is in cells A1 to C15.

2. Select Your Data Range: Click and drag to select the cells that contain your data, A1 through C15 in this case. Make sure to include the headers (the names of your columns) in your selection.

3. Convert to Table: With your data selected, press Ctrl + T. This is the shortcut to convert your range into a table. Alternatively, you can go to the 'Insert' tab and click 'Table'.

The image shows an Excel spreadsheet with a range of data selected, accompanied by the 'Create Table' dialog box. The data consists of three columns labeled 'Category,' 'Description,' and 'Amount,' with various entries such as "Banana," "Wholemeal," and "Mushrooms," alongside their corresponding amounts. The dialog box is indicating that the selected data range is from A1 to C15 and includes a checked option stating 'My table has headers,' implying that the first row contains header information. The 'OK' button is highlighted, suggesting that the user is about to confirm the creation of a table from the selected data range.

4. Confirm Your Table Range: Excel will display a dialogue box asking if your table has headers (which our example does). Confirm the range and ensure the 'My table has headers' checkbox is ticked. Click 'OK'.

5. Welcome to Your New Table: Your data range is now formatted as a table. You'll notice the colour scheme changes and filter dropdowns appear at the top of each column.

6. Auto Calculations in Tables: Here’s where the magic happens. Say you want to add a new column for 'Tax' calculations to your table. After typing 'Tax' in cell D1 (the next column's header), you can enter a formula in D2 (for example, '=C2*0.1' for 10% tax on the amount). 

The image displays an Excel spreadsheet with a table containing three columns: 'Category,' 'Description,' and 'Amount.' A new column titled 'Tax' has been added in column D. Cell D2 is selected, showing a formula '=C2*0.1,' which calculates 10% tax on the amount in cell C2. The amount in cell C2 is 112.59, implying that the tax calculated will be 11.259. The table's headers have dropdown arrows, indicating that the data can be sorted or filtered. Rows are numbered 2 to 15, and the first row is shaded, suggesting that it is formatted as a header row.

When you press 'Enter', this formula automatically applies to all existing rows in the 'Tax' column.

The image shows an Excel spreadsheet where a formula has been applied to a table column. The table consists of the headers 'Category,' 'Description,' 'Amount,' and 'Tax.' The 'Tax' column displays calculated values, which are 10% of the corresponding amounts in the 'Amount' column, as indicated by the highlighted cell D3 showing a calculated tax of 46.052 for an amount of 460.52. This demonstrates that the formula entered in one cell of the 'Tax' column has been automatically filled down to all the existing rows in that column. The headers have filtering enabled, shown by the dropdown arrows in each header cell.

7. Expanding Your Table: As you add more data at the bottom of the table, Excel automatically extends the table range. Moreover, it also applies any formulas from the adjacent rows, saving you from manual copying.

8. Organise and Analyse: With your data in a table, you can easily sort and filter using the dropdowns in the headers. Excel tables also work seamlessly with features like PivotTables, providing a robust foundation for analysis.

Converting your data into a table in Excel streamlines data entry, making management and analysis more efficient. Tables enhance your data’s visual appeal and functionality, creating a more organised and productive Excel experience.

9. Time-Saving Excel Keyboard Shortcuts

Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced

In the fast-paced world of data management, mastering keyboard shortcuts in Excel is like having a superpower.

These shortcuts not only save you time but also increase your efficiency, allowing you to navigate and manipulate data with speed and precision.

Let's dive into some essential shortcuts and see how they can transform your data entry process:

1. Fill Down (Ctrl + D): This shortcut is a lifesaver when you need to copy the content of the topmost cell in a selected range down to the other cells in the range. For instance, if you have a formula in cell A1 and you want to apply it to cells A2 through A5, select cells A1 through A5 and press Ctrl + D. The formula is instantly copied down to all selected cells.

2. Fill Right (Ctrl + R): Similar to Fill Down, Fill Right copies the content of the leftmost cell in a selected range to the other cells in the range to the right. If you have data in cell A1 and want the same data in cells B1 through E1, select these cells and press Ctrl + R to replicate the data across the row.

3. Select All (Ctrl + A): Use this shortcut to quickly choose all the data in your worksheet. If you select a cell within a table and press Ctrl + A, it selects the entire table. If you press Ctrl + A while not in a table, it selects the whole worksheet. This is very handy for applying a format or a change to everything at once..

4. Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V): These classic shortcuts are fundamental for any data entry task. Copy a selected cell or range with Ctrl + C, then paste it to a new location with Ctrl + V.

5. Undo (Ctrl + Z) and Redo (Ctrl + Y): Made a mistake? Instantly undo it with Ctrl + Z. If you change your mind, redo your action with Ctrl + Y.

6. Insert a New Row (Ctrl + Shift + "+"): Quickly insert a new row above your current position with this shortcut. It’s handy when you need to add data between existing rows.

7. Delete a Row (Ctrl + "-"): Similarly, if you need to remove a row, use this shortcut to delete it swiftly.

8. Find and Replace (Ctrl + F): Need to locate a specific piece of data or replace a term? Ctrl + F opens the Find and Replace dialog, making it easy to search through your spreadsheet.

9. Jump to the Start or End (Ctrl + Arrow Key): Quickly navigate to the edge of your data set by using Ctrl with an arrow key. Ctrl + Down Arrow takes you to the bottom of your current data range, for example.

By integrating these keyboard shortcuts into your routine, you’ll find that your data entry becomes quicker, smoother, and more efficient. They are especially useful for large datasets, where time savings can add up significantly.

To download a full list of Excel shortcuts visit our blog 'Best Keyboard Shortcuts'.

10. Powerful Data Entry with Excel Functions and Formulas

Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced

In the advanced realm of Excel, leveraging specific functions can immensely enhance your data entry and linking capabilities.

Functions like VSTACK, VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, INDEX, and MATCH are not just tools; they are powerful allies in managing complex datasets. Here's how these functions can elevate your data entry process:

1. VSTACK Function: Ideal for vertically stacking arrays or ranges, the VSTACK function can combine multiple ranges into one continuous vertical range. This is particularly useful when consolidating data from different sources or sheets into a single column. For example, =VSTACK(range1, range2) would stack the data from 'range1' and 'range2' vertically.

2. VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP FunctionsVLOOKUP, short for Vertical Lookup, is a function used to search for a value in the first column of a table array and return a corresponding value from the same row in a specified column. It's extremely useful for data entry and retrieving information from different tables based on a key value.

Similarly, HLOOKUP, or Horizontal Lookup, functions in the same way but searches for a value in the top row of a table and returns a value in the same column from a specified row. This is especially helpful for dealing with data organized horizontally.

While the XLOOKUP function has been introduced to replace both VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP, offering more flexibility and ease of use, it's important to note that many existing spreadsheets still utilize VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP.

As such, understanding how these older functions work remains essential for effectively navigating and managing various types of data spreadsheets.

3. XLOOKUP FunctionThe XLOOKUP function is a versatile tool that replaces both VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP. It searches for a value within a specified array or range and returns a corresponding value from another array or range. Unlike HLOOKUP, which only looks in the top row, XLOOKUP can search in any direction. For example, =XLOOKUP(lookup_value, lookup_array, return_array, [if_not_found], [match_mode], [search_mode]) lets you find specific data more flexibly, either from rows or columns, based on your specified criteria.

4. INDEX and MATCH Functions: When combined, INDEX and MATCH are a powerful duo for dynamic data retrieval. INDEX returns the value of a cell in a table based on the column and row number. MATCH finds the position of a value in a row, column, or table. Together, they can look up values vertically and horizontally without the limitations of VLOOKUP or HLOOKUP. For example, =INDEX(array, MATCH(lookup_value, lookup_array, [match_type])) allows you to retrieve a value from any position in a table.

5. CONCAT (or CONCATENATE in older versions of Excel): This function combines text from different cells into one cell. For instance, if you have first names in one column and last names in another, you can use CONCAT to combine them into full names in a new column. It simplifies the process of merging data from multiple cells. The syntax is =CONCAT(text1, [text2],...) or =CONCATENATE(text1, [text2],...).

The functions mentioned above are just a few examples of the tools available in Excel to enhance data entry and analysis. However, it's important to note that Excel offers various other functions, each with its unique capabilities. Functions like FILTER, UNIQUE, and SORTBY, for instance, are incredibly powerful for advanced data management.

Bonus Technique: Data Validation Drop-Down List in Excel

Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced

In addition to the essential techniques we've explored, another powerful tool in Excel's arsenal that deserves special mention is Data Validation Drop-Down Lists.

This feature not only enhances the accuracy of data entry but also makes the process more user-friendly and efficient.

What are drop-down lists?

Data Validation Drop-Down Lists in Excel are a fantastic way to control and limit the type of data entered into your spreadsheet.

By creating a drop-down list, you can provide a predefined list of options for users to choose from, thereby reducing entry errors and ensuring consistency in data collection. 

The image shows an Excel spreadsheet displaying a drop-down list in cell A2 under the header 'Location.' The list is expanded showing options such as 'Sydney, Australia,' 'Suva, Fiji,' 'Paris, France,' 'Brisbane, Australia,' 'Tokyo, Japan,' and 'Bangkok, Thailand.' The mouse cursor is hovering over the option 'Sydney, Australia.

This is particularly useful in scenarios where input needs to be standardised, such as in forms, surveys, or financial models.

The drop-down list can be populated with items like product names, locations, or values you wish to define.

Interested in adding this functionality to your Excel toolkit? Dive deeper into how you can create and customise these drop-down lists to suit your specific data entry needs. Check out our detailed blog on 'How to Create Drop-Down Lists in Excel' for step-by-step instructions and tips to master this valuable feature.

Conclusion: Enter Data in Excel

In conclusion, our exploration of '10 Essential Techniques on How to Enter Data in Excel' has taken us from the straightforward basics of manual entry and copy-paste to the more advanced realms of using functions like XLOOKUP and CONCAT and the dynamic capabilities of Excel tables.

Each technique, tailored for beginners and advanced users, not only enhances data entry efficiency but also unlocks the vast potential of Excel for organising, analysing, and transforming data.

This guide aims to empower you, the reader, with the tools and knowledge to harness Excel's full potential, elevating your data entry skills to new heights.


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