If you are financial analyst/financial modeler and spend a huge time amount of time around excel spreadsheets, learning excel shortcuts will prove to be invaluable. It will help you to be much more productive and also put less strain on the fingers. With practice, pressing a combination of buttons on your keyboard can be quicker than dragging and clicking with a mouse. Further, in many cases, where one has use to work with financial models/excel spreadsheets most of the time (like in financial institutions), knowledge and use of excel shortcuts is expected.
There are many excel shortcuts. They are excel shortcuts which help in formatting of cells, shortcuts which help auditing the flows of dependence/precedence, shortcuts that help you navigate through cells/sheets/tabs, shortcuts that help in editing data, shortcuts that help you to insert/delete row and columns, shortcuts that help you copy paste and save Excel data, (also fill across/ right, and fill down), Excel shortcuts for undoing, redoing, saving, save as etc. This is just indicative list of the shortcuts and there are many hundreds of other keyboard shortcuts that could be of use to you. Further, shortcuts can change as Microsoft brings out newer versions of Excel.
It would not be fruitful to cover all the shortcuts excel provides. One should also keep in mind that it take significant effort to remember the shortcuts especially if the list of shortcuts one wishes to use becomes longer. Another aspect to keep in mind is that there is a smaller set of shortcuts which one uses most frequently and this set of shortcuts will be different for various people based on their requirements. One way to customize the shortcuts which one uses frequently is to find a excel shortcut which the replaces the frequent mouse click and drag functions.
Here, I will give an introduction to the set of excel shortcuts which I believe will be useful for any financial analyst or financial modeler who works with spreadsheets all the time. The idea is not to cover all shortcuts but give a flavor of the shortcuts one should be using to reduce their workload.
|Basic (Copy / paste data/ etc.)||“Ctrl” + “C”||Copy Data|
|“Ctrl” + “V”||Paste Data|
|“Ctrl” + “X”||Cut|
|“Ctrl” + “Y”||Repeat|
|“Ctrl” + “Z”||Undo|
|“ALT” + “E” + “S” + “T”||Paste Only Formats|
|“ALT” + “E” + “S” + “F”||Paste Only Formulas|
|“ALT” + “E” + “S” + “V”||Paste Only Values|
|“Ctrl” + “S”||Save the Excel File|
|Formatting||“Ctrl” + “1”||Provides you with a shortcut which allows you to format cells in Excel|
|“Ctrl” + ( “I” / “b” / “u”)||“Ctrl” button on your keyboard, followed by each of the letters “i”, “b” or “u”, you will find you have shortcuts which allow you to italicise, bold and underline cells in Excel.|
|Navigating an Excel data set||“Ctrl” + “↓”||press the “Ctrl” button on your keyboard, followed by the down arrow, you’ll have a shortcut which takes you straight to the bottom of a list of Excel data|
|“Ctrl” + “↑” or “Ctrl” + “→” or “Ctrl” + “←”||similar to the above , press “Ctrl” and then the up, right or left arrows on your keyboard, you’ll have a shortcut which takes you straight to the top, right or left of your Excel data|
|“Ctrl” + “Home”||press the “Ctrl” button followed by the “Home” button on your keyboard, you’ll have found a shortcut which takes you straight to the top of an Excel sheet|
|“Ctrl” + “End”||press “Ctrl” followed by the “End” button, you’ll have a shortcut which takes you to the very bottom of your Excel sheet|
|“Ctrl” + “Page up” and “Ctrl” + “Page down”||To move to the next Excel sheet/tab within a workbook, the keyboard shortcuts to use are “Ctrl” “Page down” and “Ctrl” “Page up|
|“Ctrl” + “g”||To navigate to a particular cell within a spreadsheet model either press “Ctrl” and “g”, and enter the cell reference number|
|Selecting Excel Data||Ctrl”+ “Shift” + ( ↑, ↓, →, ←)||“Ctrl” + “Shift”+ “↓” is a keyboard shortcut for selecting a vertical block of Excel data downwards. Similarly for the other arrow keys|
|“Ctrl” + “Space bar”||Shortcut that selects a whole column within Excel.|
|“Shift” + “Space bar”||keyboard shortcut for selecting a whole row of Excel data|
|“Shift” + “Backspace”||Shortcut for deselecting Excel data and returning to the active cell.|
|Insert /Delete Rows||“Ctrl” + “Shift” + “+”||This will help in inserting columns, row, cells based on the active selection. If a row is selected, then this action will insert a row. If a column is selected, this action will insert a column. If a cell is selected, you will have a shortcut for inserting a cell.|
|“Ctrl”+ “-“||Similar to the above, it will help in deleting columns, rows, cells based on active selection|
|Name a cell range||“Ctrl” + “F3″||Shortcut for naming a cell range|
I would like to make a special reference to the practice of naming cells. Naming cells makes it faster to navigate and also helps in identifying what the cell references means to the financial modeler/user. For example if cell B2 refers to the total number of customers in a store, and we name the cell B2 as “Total Customers”. Then instead of using b2 we can use “Total Customers” in formulas referencing the cells. This makes it much easier to reference and review formulas especially if the formulas are complicated.
To conclude, the list of excel shortcuts may look daunting and be difficult to remember all of them. But, it will be well worth the effort. The easier approach to remember all these shortcuts is to follow an incremental approach. The idea is to start remembering and internalizing the shortcuts for the functions which we use most frequently first. Then, we make a conscious effort to internalize the shortcuts which are less frequently used. Remember, excel shortcuts are there to help us be more productive and lets start on the journey on being more productive and successful, by using them.