Excel Tips: Navigating an Excel Table

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Collecting, analyzing, and reporting with data can be daunting. The person that SAGE Publishing — the parent of MethodSpace — turns to when it has questions is Diana Aleman – editor extraordinaire for SAGE Stats and U.S. Political Stats. And now she is bringing her trials, tribulations, and expertise with data to you in a monthly blog, Tips with Diana. Stay tuned for Diana’s experiences, tips, and tricks with finding, analyzing and visualizing data. View Diana’s blog HERE.

As simple as it may sound, navigating yourself around an Excel worksheet takes some practice. Scrolling your way through a table of say 10 records is no big deal, but this can be incredibly cumbersome when you are dealing with a dataset that contains hundreds or thousands of records. This is an issue I often came across when collecting and cleaning data for SAGE Stats and while I strongly believe that Excel is best learned by practice than by seeing, I’ll outline the quick shortcuts all Excel users should familiarize themselves with in order to quickly navigate their way around an Excel table.

The breakdown

This will hopefully not come as a shock to most of you, but an Excel worksheet is comprised of columns (represented by letters) and rows (represented by numbers). The last column you’ll see in Excel is column “XFD” and the last row in Excel is row 1,048,576. Imagine having a dataset that occupies a fraction of those limits – yep, it is no fun! Below are the best keyboard shortcuts to navigating up and down an Excel table instead of clicking and scrolling your way into a massive state of frustration.

Keystroke Where does it take you?
Ctrl + End The last cell of a data set
Ctrl + Up or Down Arrow Keys The top or bottom of the data set
Ctrl + Left or Right Arrow Keys The left-most or right-most cell of a data set
Ctrl + Shift + Arrow Keys Selects cells in the same column/row as the active cell. A great shortcut when you want to quickly select and copy data.
Page Up and Down Moves one Excel screen up or down in a worksheet
Alt + Page Up or Page Down Moves one Excel screen to the left or right in a worksheet

I’ve never had an Excel dataset that I couldn’t quickly scroll through on my own.

Suit yourself, but these shortcuts are an excellent way to save yourself the time and effort it even currently takes you to find the information you need. Save yourself some eye strain and practice these shortcuts! Once you’ve gotten into the habit of using them, you’ll wonder how you lived without them. Check out Microsoft’s dedicated page for additional keyboard shortcut suggestions!

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