Friday tip: easily enter repetitive data into Excel

By: John McGarvey

Date: 31 May 2013

{{}}It's not much fun being an Excel novice. While undeniably powerful, Microsoft's spreadsheet tool is pretty intimidating if you don't know your way around it properly.

One of the most common Excel tasks is to enter repetitive information, like a list of sequential dates or the same number over and over again.

These tasks are time-consuming and soul-destroying, unless you know these handy shortcuts.

1. Enter a list of dates in sequence

Ok, say you want column A of your spreadsheet to contain a list of dates, running from 1 May - 30 May. You could type in each date manually. Or you could just follow these steps:

  1. At the top of the column, type in the start of your sequence of dates. For instance: 1 May, 1/5/2013 or 01-May-13
  2. Now, click to select that cell, and hold the left mouse button.
  3. Drag the mouse down the column, still holding the button.
  4. You should see a date appear next to the pointer, which changes as you move down the screen.
  5. When you release the mouse button, a list of sequential dates will appear in the cells.

This also works for other data, including numbers, days of the week, times and more.

2. Enter the same thing into lots of cells

Sometimes you might need to enter the same number or text into several cells dotted around your spreadsheet. Here's how:

  1. Click one of the cells into which you wish to insert the data
  2. Holding the CTRL key on your keyboard, click the other cells into which you wish to insert the same data
  3. Once you've selected all the cells, type in your data
  4. Hit CTRL + Enter and the data will be added to all selected cells

What are your most-used Excel shortcuts? Leave a comment and let us know.

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