Navigating and selecting data in an Excel worksheet

Excel contains 1048576 rows and 16384 columns which is a huge capacity to hold large volume of data. Whenever, big set of data exists in Excel, navigating around the data file is quite a challenge for users to get around the worksheet. Here is the most fundamental Excel worksheet navigation methods and ways to select data.

Navigation around the worksheet

To navigate around the worksheet, Excel has several navigation features which makes is easy for the user to navigate easily around.

Horizontal and vertical scrollbars

The horizontal scroll bar is used to scroll to the right and left of the worksheet.

The vertical scrollbar is used to scroll up and down the worksheet rows or records.

Figure 1-Vertical and horizontal scrollbars.

Using the Keyboard

Arrow keys on the keyboard

To move around the worksheet easily using the keyboard, use the down, up, left and right keys on the keyboard. The movement will be one cell at a time.

PageUp, PageDown, and Home keys

To move one page or several records at a time, use the PageUp and PageDown keys on keyboard.

Pressing the Home key will go to the  very beginning of the first record.

Move between different worksheets in a Excel workbook file

If the worksheet contains several worksheets, click on the worksheet name tab at the bottom of the excel window to move from one worksheet to another.

Figure 2-Workshet name tabs.

Doing selection in selection

There are several ways to select data for editing. Remember that in order to apply formatting such as font, bold, number, currency, etc the data has to be selected.

Select a single cell

To select a single cell, single click on the cell. Not a double click. The cell will the become active cell. It will have a solid border around it.

Select more than one cell

To select more than one cell, first select the first cell. Hold down the mouse and drag down, up, left or right depending on the direction of the selection required.

Before you drag, there are three icons you need to pay attention to when you hover the mouse in the selected or active cell.

Figure 3-Select mouse icons

The big white cross

This is the select icon.  Point to any select

The skinny black cross with arrows

When the mouse is hovered the edges of the active cell, it will turn into a skinny cross with arrow heads. This is the move icon. Hold the mouse and move and the data in the cell will be dragged along with it. To move a range of data, select the data cell range with using the white cross icon. Once highlighted use the move icon to drag it to the desired location.

The skinny black cross with no arrows

When the mouse is hovered to the bottom right corner of the active cell, it will turn into a skinny black cross with no arrows. Hold the mouse and drag it. It will copy the data

Select entire row or column

To select an entire row or column, click on the row number or column letter. To select multiple columns or rows, select the first row number or column letter and then hold the mouse and drag in the desired direction (left or right for columns) or up an down for rows.

To select rows or columns that are not close to each other, then select one row column first. Hold the CTRL key on the keyboard and then select the second or third column/row.

Select the entire worksheet

To select the whole worksheet, click on the on the very top left corner between the row number and column letter. This will select the whole workbook.

Figure 4-All all corner

Select larger data set

To click the first cell, hold the Shift key and then click the last cell

Another easy way to select is to select any cell within the data set and press Ctrl + A  keys on the keyboard.

These are most common excel worksheet navigation skills. With frequent practice, these navigation and selection methods will save a great deal of time and effort and increase the productivity level when using Excel.