Sometimes, shortcuts are good!
Not the cutting corners kind where you totally miss doing some large portion of a task. But the kind where you get to the desired outcome FASTER and MORE EFFICIENTLY without missing any of the important ingredients.
I personally use Microsoft’s Excel DAILY (it is always open on my work computer) so a lot of my time was spent clicking around and fumbling through the menus trying to perform tasks like:
Over the years, I have found some really nifty shortcuts! Here are my top beginner Excel shortcuts for finance and data analysis.
(NOTE: I am working on a PC but some of these will also work on MacOS as well!)
Sometimes the most time consuming thing in excel can be selecting the data you want. Let’s make a pact: No more clicking and dragging!
To move around a data set faster: hold down the Ctrl button and use the arrow keys. This will take you as far as the data goes in that direction!
So if you are looking to go to the bottom of the sheet: Hold Ctrl and tap the down arrow on the keyboard.
If you would also like to select the data hold down SHIFT+Ctrl while using the arrow keys. This will make it easier to highlight and select large amounts of data.
You can also select entire rows and columns easily. Hold SHIFT and then tap the spacebar to select an entire row. Or you can hold Ctrl and tap the spacebar to select the entire column.
To select all of the data in the Excel sheet - hold Ctrl and tap the letter A.
Now you have selected the data you want, but need to filter out some of the garbage.
Tap the following keys in this order: Alt > A > T
This will create dropdown menus in the first row of headers that allows you to easily select which data you want to show and which items you want to leave out!
Filtering is one of the best ways to DELETE items from your dataset. You can do this by selecting only the items you want to delete in the filter dropdown (everything you want to keep will be temporarily hidden), select all of the data (using the SHIFT+Ctrl+Arrows shortcut!) and then delete the cells with the Alt>H>D>D keyboard sequence.
That will throw a pop up asking which way to shift the non-deleted cells - just tap the ENTER button.
Now use those filters to show the rows of data you actually want! You can now remove the filter from the first row if you need to by using Alt > A > T again.
After scrubbing the excel sheet, leaving you with the data you actually want, it is time to make it look nice!
Select all of the cells (Ctrl and tap A), then use the keyboard sequence Alt > H > O > I. This will make all of the columns perfectly sized to show the data within them.
Now you can use this shortcut to surround the data in black boxes: Alt > H > B > A
This will draw a black grid around all of your data, making it look neat and tidy.
To finish - select the entire sheet (Ctrl and tap A) and highlight the cells white using Alt > H > H and then use the arrow keys to select the color white - then press enter.
This will make it so that only the gridlines you drew with the Alt > H > B > A sequence will show - hiding all of the other gridlines in the Excel sheet! This little trick will accentuate your dataset and make it look more organized.
This post wasn’t written to plaster these shortcuts into your brain - it was written to help you realize that you can select - edit - format - and beautify your data without ever touching the mouse!
The only way that you can do this is by trying them for yourself, realizing which ones work for you, and finding new ones that you will use more often.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes here! This is how you will learn and develop new skills and techniques to make the process your own. If anything, I hope that one or two of these shortcuts will be applicable in your day-to-day routine so that I save you some time at the desk!
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P.S. New blog posts coming your way every Monday!
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