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Special Tricks for Entering Data Across Rows in Excel


By default, Excel moves the cursor down one cell whenever you press the Enter key. However, you may not realize that you can alter this behaviour on a temporary or permanent basis. This can free you up to enter data more efficiently and accurately into spreadsheets, as you’ll be able to focus on the inputs without being distracted by constantly activating the next cell.

One way to move the selection one cell to the right is to press the Tab key, instead of Enter. However, old habits die hard, so you may instead want to select two or more cells on a single row of your worksheet, as shown in Figure 1. When you do so, Excel will activate the next cell to the right within your selection each time you press Enter. Your cursor will hop back to the first cell in the selection once you leave the last cell. While most users select a range of cells with their mouse, you may find you have more control when you hold down the Shift key and then use the right-arrow key to select a block of cells.

Alternatively, if you find yourself faced with a large amount of sideways data entry, you may wish to change one of your Excel options, as shown in Figure 2. 

From this point on Excel will automatically move your cursor to the right (instead of down). As you likely noticed, you can also have the cursor move left or up. If you clear the checkbox, you’ll remain in the current cell when you click Enter and will then need to move the cursor on your own. These settings affect all of your workbooks, and there are no workbook-independent settings that can alter the behavior of moving the selection within a given workbook.

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