Microsoft Excel 2007 - Navigating Excel

Learn How To Navigate Between Cells

To use Excel 2007 effectively you will need to learn how to navigate between cells.

Making Cells Active

Before you can type data into a cell, you need to make it active. You can make a cell active by clicking directly in it or by moving the active cell left, right, up and down with the arrow keys on your keyboard. When you make a cell active, it becomes highlighted with a black border; start typing and the data is inserted into the active cell. If you press enter after you've finished typing data into that cell, the cell below becomes active. You'll also notice that either the cell reference or the cell's name appears in the name box (see image below) in the top left of the worksheet.

The Data In The Cell

If you want to abandon the data you are currently typing into a cell before moving to another cell, pressing escape will reinstate the original contents of that cell. Sometimes, the data you are entering into a cell seems to spill into the next cell along. Don't worry about this; the content is only contained in the active cell. If you want the column to expand to fit the rather large contents of that cell, double click on the right column separator in the heading.

The AutoComplete Facility

If you move to the cell below and start typing exactly the same thing, Excel notices this and autocompletes it for you. This isn't always what you want though, so you can press enter to accept the autocompletion or just carry on typing your data. You can turn autocomplete off by clicking the Office Button > Excel Options > Advanced, and uncheck Enable AutoComplete for cell values.

Cell Reference

Cells are referenced by their column and row locations. Cell G11 is the cell found at the intersection of colum G with row 11. You can also assign names to cells by making the required cell active and then clicking in the name box to type the name.

Excel Name Box

If you have a large worksheet, navigating using this method becomes unwieldy and slow. Instead, you can press F5 and use the Go To dialogie box. In this dialogue box, a history of previous go tos you have performed is displayed. You can either type in a new cell reference, or highlight a previously used one and then click enter. The selected cell becomes active.

As well as using the arrow keys to move one cell at a time in the appropriate direction, you can use the following shortcuts to navigate further afield. The descriptions may sound confusing, but if you spend a couple of minutes trying them out, you'll easily get to grips with them.

Shortcut Action
Ctrl-down arrow Think about the column the cursor is currently in. If the active cell is in a range of cells holding data, the cursor jumps to the bottommost cell in that range. If the active cell is empty, the cursor jumps to the next cell down that contains data.
Ctrl-up arrow If the active cell is in a range of cells holding data, the cursor jumps to the topmost cell in that range. If the active cell is empty, the cursor jumps to the next cell up that contains data.
Ctrl-left arrow/Ctrl-right arrow As above, but row-wise, left and right
Page up/page down Displays the previous and next page in the worksheet
Ctrl-home Jumps to the very beginning of the worksheet, i.e. cell A1
Ctrl-page down/ctrl-page up Jumps to the next/previous worksheet in the work book
Ctrl-end Jumps to the end of the section of the worksheet that contains data