7 Tricks To Make You A Spreadsheet Expert

Excel is an excellent tool for organizing, storing and manipulating data. Here are tricks that will assist with data entry into the spreadsheet:

1. Control the cell pointer during data entry:

Excel automatically moves the cell pointer to the next cell down when you press Enter after entering data into a cell. This gets distracting, especially, if you wish to add data in a row instead of a column. To change the setting, use the Excel options dialog box.

  •   Choose: File ->Excel Options -> Advanced ->Editing Options.


  • Enable Check-box “After pressing Enter, move selection” and the corresponding drop-down, controls the action of the cell pointer during data Entry.
  • Tip: On disabling the check-box, arrow keys can be used to control the direction of the pointer. For example, if you’re entering data in a row, press the right-arrow key rather than Enter to move fluidly to the next cell in the same row.

2. Store data within Data Tables :

Excel Spreadsheet is grid of rows and columns. While adding data into Excel, intuitively one does not use Data Tables. However, Excel Data Tables are simple and powerful. They help in easily adding more rows and columns without worrying about updating formula references, formatting options, filter settings, etc. Data Tables take care of everything.

To add Excel Data Tables, select a Range of Cells comprising of data and click on Table button residing inside the Insert Ribbon.


Data Table Tricks:

  • Data Tables comes with its own set of Data Filters and Sort Options by default. Without Data Tables, Excel allows only one set of filters per worksheet. However, if a worksheet has more than one table, then each table comes with its own filters and sort options.
  • Formulas inside a data table can use meaningful header names instead of using cell references. Moreover, on adding or removing rows, one need not worry about updating the references.


  • With structured references, calculating inside columns becomes very easy. In addition, excel automatically fills the formula inside rest of the cells in the column.
  • Data Tables can be formatted with a single click inside Table Tools
  • Duplicate Data can be deleted from the Data Tables with a single click inside Table Tools
  • Data Tables can be converted back to a Range with a single click inside Table Tools
  • Data Tables can be exported to a share point site with a single click inside Table Tools
  • Data Tables can be summarized by adding a Total Row with a single click inside Table Tools

3. Data Entry Forms

Once the Data Tables are set up in a worksheet, Excel Data forms provide the ability to enter data into those tables using a Dialog box. To get the Form Button on the Quick Access Toolbar, follow the below steps:

  • Click on Customize Quick Access Toolbar
  • Select More Commands from the list
  • Choose All Commands from the Dropdown
  • You should find Forms in the list of All Commands
  • Click on Add, and it should get added to the Quick Access Toolbar, once you click on OK

In order to access the Forms Dialog box, simply select the Data Table Range in the worksheet and Click on Forms from the Quick Access Toolbar.


The options on the Dialog box are as follows:

  • New: Adds a new record into the Data Table
  • Delete: Deletes the displayed record from the Data Table
  • Restore: Restores the changes made in a Data Table Entry
  • Find Prev/Find Next: Finds the records as specified in the Criteria Field
  • Criteria: Retrieving data that meets a set criteria
  • Close: Closes the Dialog Box

4. Data Validation Lists:

Creating drop-down list and enforcing data entry using drop-down, ensures that data consistency is always maintained in your worksheet. To create a drop-down list:

  • Enter the list of items in a range.
  • Select the cell that will contain the drop-down list
  • Choose Data -> Data Tools -> Data Validation.
  • In the Data Validation dialog box, click the Settings tab.
  • In the Allow drop-down list, select List.
  • In the Source box, specify the range that contains the items.
  • Make sure that the In-Cell drop-down option is checked and click OK.
Tip: If the drop-down list is short, then you can enter the values directly in the Source Field separated by commas.

5. AutoCorrect for short-hand data entry:

AutoCorrect, by default is meant to do useful things like capitalizing the first letter of sentences, or correct the accidental use of the caps lock key. In addition, one can customize the AutoCorrect to create shortcuts for commonly used words or phrases. For example, below I use the abbreviation: “gro” for Groceries, “subsc” for Subscriptions and so on.

In order to get to the AutoCorrect Options,
Click on Files -> Excel Options -> Proofing -> Auto Correct Options.
Alternatively, the key-board short cut is: ALT+T+A.


AutoCorrect Tips and Tricks:

  • To Add an AutoCorrect Shortcut, type the shortcut text in the Replace Field, and type the text that it will expand to in the With Field, and then click Add.
  • To remove an AutoCorrect shortcut, locate the shortcut in the AutoCorrect list and click on Delete.
  • To override AutoCorrect Press CTRL+Z while entering information into the cell
  • To share the AutoCorrect entries with your friends or across machines, simply locate the *.acl file on your hard drive, and copy it to the corresponding location on the other machine.
  • Excel converts email address or web URL entries into hyperlinks using AutoCorrect. To override a single automatic hyperlink, just click Undo (or press Ctrl+Z) after you enter the text. The hyperlink disappears, but the text you entered remains intact. To disable this feature completely, go to AutoCorrect Options -> Click on Tab: Auto Format as you Type -> Disable the check box: “Internet and network paths with hyperlinks” .

6. AutoComplete to automate Data Entry:

Excel’s AutoComplete feature makes it easy to enter the same text into multiple cells. Simply type the first few letters of a text entry into a cell and Excel automatically completes the entry, based on other entries that you already made in the column. It helps to not only reduce the typing, but also to maintain consistency in the data entered.

Auto Complete Tips and Tricks:

  • Auto complete works only on contiguous column of cells, so do not leave blank rows to fully utilize Auto complete’s potential
  • Auto complete changes the case of letters automatically
  • If the column contains multipls entries that match the first few characters, then Auto Complete does not kick off until your entry matches one of them quickly.
  • You can access the Mouse controlled version of Auto Complete by right clicking the cell and choosing the “Pick from Drop Down List” Option.
  • You can access the same drop down list from keyboard by pressing: Shift+F10.

7. Proofread with Audio

Excel has a handy text-to-speech capability, that is capable of reading the contents of the cell as you enter it. In addition, it can also read back a specific range of cells.

To enable the feature in the Quick Access Tool bar:

  • Click on Customize Quick Access Toolbar
  • Select More Commands from the list
  • Choose All Commands from the Dropdown
  • Select all the Cells starting with Speak Cells and Add them to the Quick Access Toolbar, by clicking on Add.


To read a range of cells, select the range of cells, and Click the Speak Cells button.

You can change the orientation, by clicking on “Speak Cells on Column” or “Speak Cells on Rows”.

If you wish the excel to speak the contents of the cell as you enter, then click on “Speak Cells on Enter”.

The below Image shows the symbols for each of the options:

Have I missed out on some of your favorite tricks on data entry? I would love to hear about them in the comments section.

Also Read:

Courtesy: Life Hack by Devashish Patel

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