I wish I had known in college just how crucial Excel skills are in the workforce. Not just in the business world, but also in industries such as media, tech, engineering…the list goes on. Data analysis is becoming a critical component in just about every job thanks to advances in data storage technology. Excel is a basic skill every working professional should have in their tool belt – and today I’m sharing 9 Excel shortcuts, or hot keys, that will help you out on any Excel quizzes you may face during interviews, save you time, and impress your boss.
Today, we’ll be using a sample spreadsheet I created. Place yourself in the shoes of a compensation analyst who is looking at the compensation data of employees at a company. You’ve just received a request to pull some data on a subset of employees, and you don’t have a lot of time. Now you get to put your Excel hotkeys to use – let’s get started!
- Selecting an entire row (SHIFT + SPACE)
This shortcut is particularly useful if you want to focus on or isolate a particular row of data, which usually shows all the data components linked to one attribute (usually an employee, customer, etc.) in your spreadsheet.
- Selecting an entire column (CTRL + SPACE)
This shortcut is helpful when you want to focus on one column in your spreadsheet – perhaps to copy the contents of that column or perform a search for a specific characteristic.
- Selecting an entire table (CTRL + SHIFT + ARROWS)
Selecting an entire table with just a few keystrokes is a huge time saver. You may want to copy your table to paste it into a PowerPoint deck, or copy the formatting onto another similar table.
- Moving through the different sheets in your workbook (CTRL + PAGE DOWN/UP)
This shortcut will help you navigate easily through your entire workbook – you can move through tabs without having to click through each one.
- Creating a filter (ALT + D + F + F)
You could always click the “Sort & Filter” option under the Home tab in your top ribbon, but selecting your header row with Shift + Space and doing a quick Alt + D + F + F is often more convenient. The shortcut may not appear so short at first glance, but it becomes very useful when you’re crunching numbers under a deadline.
- Auto sum (ALT + =)
Let’s say, in our scenario as a compensation analyst, that we want to see what the actual spend was on total annual salaries. You could use a SUM() formula – or you could highlight the contents of your column and do an easy Alt + =, and voila! Instant sum. (Bonus Tip: you can also see useful statistics, such as Average, Count, and Sum on the bottom right hand corner if you select your column/row of interest).
- Getting to the end or beginning of a row/column/table (CTRL + ARROW)
Sometimes, your data sheets may have dozens, maybe even hundreds, of columns and rows of data. To get from one end of a table to another (either column or row), use Ctrl + a combination of arrow keys and presto – you get get from Point A to Point B in a snap!
- Formatting your cell (ALT + O + E)
Odds are, you’ll be needing to clean up your table once you’ve manipulated all the data. One quick way to access the Format dialog box is pressing Alt + O + E, which will bring you right to all kinds of formatting options – don’t go too crazy now!
- Sorting your data (ALT + D + S)
It might also be useful to sort your data in a logical way; for instance, in our example below, it might make sense to order our employees from highest to lowest salary so we get a sense of hierarchy. You can easily sort a table by selecting it (refer to Excel trick number 3) and then pressing Alt + D + S. You can add one or multiple rules to sort your data – nifty!
There are a ton of other nifty Excel shortcuts you can learn to save time. If you want, you can make it a goal for yourself to never touch the mouse – all my coworkers and I have accomplished this feat! Check out these awesome articles here and here for additional help. As always, shoot me a message or a comment below if you have any questions or want to learn more!
Keep on Crushin’,