There are two keys on our keyboard that aid in navigation and selection: CTRL and Shift.
- The CTRL key tells Excel to move the cursor (the green box) to the end of the currently selected data set.
- The Shift key tells excel to highlight cells.
When used with the arrow keys, we can perform very rapid movements and highlights.
Using the CTRL Key
If you have a large data set, using CTRL-↓ will place your cursor on the last row. Using CTRL-→ will place your cursor in the last (right-most) column.
The opposite is true. CTRL-↑ moves you to the top row and CTRL-← moves you to the first (left-most) column.
Excel stops the cursor when it encounters the first blank cell or sheet edge, whichever comes first.
Working with Multiple Tables
If you have several tables separated by blank rows/columns, repeated pressing of the CTRL-arrows would “walk” you through the tables.
- CTRL-↓ to move to the last row in the first table.
- CTRL-↓ to move to the first row of the second table.
- CTRL-↓ to move to the last row in the second table.
- CTRL-↓ to move to the first row of the third table.
- etc, etc, etc…
This assumes you don’t have any blank cells in your table(s).
Using the SHIFT Key
The Shift key is how we tell Excel to highlight.
If we hold the Shift key and repeatedly press one of the arrow keys, we will select cells as we move.
Using CTRL and Shift at the Same Time
By pressing CTRL-Shift and then using the arrow keys we are telling Excel to “move to the end and highlight along the way”.
It’s a fast and easy way to select a column or row of data.
You could even select an entire table using these keys.
- Select the upper-left cell of the table
- Press CTRL–Shift-↓
- Keep pressing CTRL–Shift
- Press →
This is good practice to get your finger acrobatics skills perfected.
NOTE: A simpler way to select a table is to click in the table and press CTRL-A.