Time Saving Data Entry Tips for Excel Users

A lot of people use Excel as a tool to maintain records. These could be companies maintaining financial records, stores maintaining sales records, teachers maintaining students scores, etc.


Excel has a lot of great features that makes data entry easy and fast.


In this article, I want to share some cool data entry tips that will help you get the work done faster.


Use Control + D to Fill the Cell Below


If you word involves entering data in a column, you can use this shortcut to copy the content from the cell above.


For example, if you are in cell A2, and you want to copy cell A1, instead of selecting A1, copying it, coming to A2 and pasting it, you can just use the shortcut Control + D.


This would copy the cells above the active cell and paste it in the active cell.


Use Drop Down Lists for Faster Data Entry


If you have to enter data from a fix set of entries, using drop down list in Excel can be a great time saver.


For example, if you have list of 5 items (let's say Item 1, Item 2, Item 3, Item 4, Item 5), and you have to fill a lot of cells with one of the items, instead of manually entering it, you can use the drop down list.

Once you have created the drop down list for the cells where you want this data entry, just click on the drop down icon and select the one you want to enter. This can save you a lot of time and it also makes sure that there are no manual entry errors.


Use Flash Fill


Flash Fill allows you to identify patterns and then complete the data entry for you.


This is an amazing tool when you want to quickly slice and dice your text data. For example, if you have a set of names (first name and last name) and you quickly want to get the First name for all these names, you can use Flash Fill and do this in a snap.


While this can be done manually or by using formulas, I find Flash Fill to be very fast and very accurate.


Autocomplete Using Tab


Excel assists you in data entry by identifying your activity so far and showing you the relevant options. For example, if you are entering data manually and you have to enter the name 'ABC limited' multiple times.


Once you have entered it in a cell, the next time you enter A, Excel will show you the full name 'ABC limited' and you can make that entry by hitting the tab key.


Excel tries to autocomplete the data entry for you based on the preexisting values in that column.


Enter Data in Multiple Cells Using Control + Enter


If you have to enter a value or a formula in many cells at once, you can use this technique.

For example, if you have to enter the same name in 10 cells:

  • Select all the 10 cells.
  • Enter the name in the active cell.
  • Press Control + Enter.

The name would be entered in all the cells.


You can also use this technique for entering formulas as well.


These are my top 5 data entry tips. There are many such tricks in Excel that can really help speed up the work and make you more productive.


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How to Easily Remove Duplicates in Excel

If you work with data in Excel, you're likely to find yourself dealing with the issue of duplicate records or data points.


With small data sets, you can manually scan and try and remove duplicates. But if you have large data sets, doing this manually would take a lot of your time.


The good news is that Excel has an inbuilt feature that allows you to remove duplicate with a few clicks. 


In this tutorial, I will show you the steps you need to follow to remove duplicates from your data set in Excel.


Suppose you have a transaction records as shown below:

As you can see, the second and third record are the same. 


While you can visually see this duplicate data point in this example, if you have hundreds or thousands of records, doing this manually would be time consuming.


Here are the steps to remove duplicates from the data set shown above:

  • Select the entire data set.
  • Go to Data and with the Data Tools group, click on the Remove Duplicates icon.
  • In the Remove Duplicates dialog box, make sure all the columns are selected (which is the default setting).
  • Click OK.

This will instantly remove all the duplicate records from the data set.


Note that this technique alters your data set. If you want to keep the original data set as is, make a copy of the data set and then perform these steps on it.


Hope you find this technique useful and it saves you some time.


If you want to learn more about this technique and how to use it, here is a tutorial that covers this topic in detail.



5 Ways You can Use Excel to Be More Efficient

Excel has many features that can help you get a lot of work done faster and more efficiently.


Here is a list of 5 excel features you should master to be super productive:

  • PIVOT TABLES: Pivot Tables can crunch thousands (or even millions) of data points in a matter of seconds. If you have a data set such as sales records or transaction records, you can quickly use the drag and drop feature of Pivot Table to create summaries. It can quickly answer management level questions such as which sector is doing better than other or which sales rep has highest contribution to profit.
    Here is a great Pivot Table resource I found online.
  • Excel Functions: Excel functions are the life and soul of Excel. You can a great deal of analysis using function. Be it dates, numbers, or text, there are functions for everything. While there are ~500 Excel functions, you need to know a handful to get a majority of tasks done.
    Here is a collection of Excel Functions with Examples and Videos.
  • Excel Keyboard Shortcuts: Keyboard shortcuts can save you a lot of time and effort. It saves you time by not requiring you to leave the keyboard and go to mouse for every other thing. There are hundreds of keyboard shortcuts but if you can master the ones you need regularly, you will find a considerable difference in your productivity.
  • Excel Table: When working with tabular data, you should always convert it into an Excel table. To do this, select the data that you want to convert into an Excel Table and press Control + T (hold the Control key and then press T). There are many benefits of using Excel Table. 
    • If you have a data set that expands, Excel Table would automatically account for it in formulas.
    • You can use Excel Table column names instead of confusing references when creating formulas
  • Conditional Formatting: If your work involves creating reports and analyzing data, you'll find conditional formatting to be a great ally. It helps you visually show the variation in the data. For example, if you have the sales numbers for 10 sales reps, it can visually show the higher ones in green, medium ones in Orange and low ones in red. There are many visual formats you can use including Harvey bubbles, arrows, colors, and bars.

5 Excel Functions That Will Save you Time and Effort

Excel functions form the backbone of data analysis in Excel. There are more than 470 functions in Excel that can help you when working with numbers, text, or alphanumeric strings.


You don't need to know all the Excel functions of course. But if you get a grip on some of the important ones, then it can help you a lot in your daily work.


Here I am listing 5 Excel functions that you, as an analyst, must champion.

Must Know Excel Functions

  • VLOOKUP Function: In the world of Excel spreadsheets, VLOOKUP is the king. It is one of the most popular functions and helps you while working with large data sets. It looks for a value in a column and when it finds a match, it returns the corresponding value from the specified column. Here is a detailed guide on using VLOOKUP Function that I found online. Click here to get an in depth understanding of how this function works.
  • IF Function: IF function evaluates a condition and if the condition is met, it returns the specified value, and if not, then it returns the other specified value. For example, if you are grading students, you can easily check the marks are more than 35 or not. If not, specify it to return FAIL, else PASS.
  • SUMIF function: This function adds the values in the specified range if the specified condition is met.
  • COUNTIF function:This function counts the values in the specified range if the specified condition is met.
  • LEFT Function: This function is to be used when working with text. It can extract the specified number of characters from a given text string. For example, if I want to extract the first 5 alphabets from "spreadsheet", I can use this function.

These function will get you started. Once you have a good handle on these functions, start experimenting with other functions.