Navigation and data entry in Excel

This tutorial shows you how to move around in Excel and fill the cells with content. This is the basis for all further tutorials on this website. Basically Excel always wants to know where and what you want to do. The where is determined by the selected cells and the what can be for example a data entry or any other action.

Navigate in Excel

In Excel we can select individual cells by clicking on them. Usually we use the mouse pointer, which looks like a big plus. If we click on a cell, it will be outlined in the next moment. Now Excel knows where the next actions should take place.

To select multiple cells, we click on a cell and, keeping the mouse button pressed, drag the cursor in the direction until the desired area is selected.

We select several individual cells by holding the CTRL key while clicking the mouse on the corresponding cells.

To select a whole line, we move our mouse cursor to the left side, where the numbering of the lines is located. When the cursor is over the left line area, it turns into a black arrow.

After clicking from this position, the entire line will be selected.

Selecting columns works the same way.

After clicking on the B, all cells in column B will be selected.

Instead of the mouse pointer, we can also move up, down, left and right on the workbook using the arrow keys on a keyboard. If you use Excel with a smartphone or tablet computer, you can also select cells directly with your finger. It is the same principle.

Data entry in Excel

Sooner or later we will not get around entering certain data. To do this, we click on a cell as described above and enter a value with the keyboard. In our example we enter the number one. Either we confirm our input with the Enter key or we select another cell.

To edit the data inside a cell we simply double-click on the cell (or we select it once and press the F2 key). To delete the contents of a cell, we press the Delete key on the keyboard.

Autocomplete

Excel wouldn’t be so popular in everyday office life if it didn’t have a few helpful tools. One of them is the autocomplete function and is located as a small “box” at the bottom right of the selected cell or range. To understand how autocomplete works, let’s go through a few examples:

First, we write a one in cell B2 and confirm the entry with the Enter key. The cell B2 is selected.

We can see our small button on the lower right side of the selected cell.

Now we click on the button and drag the area downwards with the mouse button pressed.

The result looks like this:

The one was multiplied according to the area size.

This technique is easy to learn and can save a lot of time.

Excel can do even more:

We now enter the value one in cell B2 and the value two in cell B3 and select both cells.

Now we click the little autocomplete button again and drag it down a bit.

The result: the numbers were not only copied, but interpreted as the beginning of a series and continued.

This also works with times or date entries: In this example, we want to have the days continue automatically: We enter the first and second of January,

pull down the range,

and Excel continues the list.

If we want to have months counted, we specify 01/01/2020 and 01/02/2020, etc., so that the software knows that the months should change.

More examples of auto fill

Autocomplete also works with weekdays, months, mixed text and numeric values, and date and time values. Even entries like Mo (for Monday) and Jan(for January) can be interpreted correctly by Excel. See example.

autoausfüllen_5

Result: The individual contents are continued correctly. With the exception of column E, because the identical date value was entered twice here.

autoausfüllen_6

Kopieren statt unterdrücken

But what happens if the selected cells are not to be expanded, but only copied? 1,2 and 3 should not be followed by 4, but should start again at 1. To prevent auto-filling for a short time, we hold down the CTRL key on the keyboard while dragging with the mouse button.