Moving Around in a Workbook: MS Excel

Dennis Faas's picture

When you begin a new workbook, the "active cell" is located at the top-left corner of the worksheet (in Cell A1). To create your worksheet or make changes to it, you must move around in it.

Getting around in a worksheet quickly is the mark of an experienced Excel user. You want to learn the quickest way to get from place to place so you can use your time more efficiently.

Keyboard Shortcuts for Moving Around in a Worksheet

You can move around in the worksheet by pressing the arrow keys and other direction keys on the keyboard. When you use the keyboard to move around in the worksheet, you move the location of the active cell. You then begin adding or editing the contents of the active cell.

  • Left arrow: One cell to the left
  • Right arrow: One cell to the right
  • Up arrow: Up one row
  • Down arrow: Down one row
  • Home: The cell in column A of the current row
  • Page Up: Up one screen Page Down Down one screen
  • Ctrl+Home: Cell A1
  • Ctrl+End: The cell at the intersection of the right-most column and the bottom-most used row (the lower-right corner of your work area)
  • Ctrl+arrow key: Jump to the end of a series of blank or nonblank cells in a given direction

Use the Scroll Bar

You can also use the mouse to click or drag the scroll bars to view different parts of a worksheet. If your mouse has a wheel button, you can also use it to scroll through the document. Rotate away from you to scroll up; rotate toward you to scroll down.

The difference between using the keyboard and the scroll bars is that when you use the keyboard, you are moving the active cell. On the other hand, using the mouse to scroll up or down in the worksheet merely changes the view. You must click the mouse in the worksheet to move the active cell.

Moving to a Specific Cell

To jump directly to a specific cell, click the Name box on the left side of the formula bar, and type the cell address (that is, its column letter and row number, such as A1 or B6) and press Enter.

As soon as you press Enter, the Excel screen displays that cell (and the ones near it) and makes it the active cell.

Moving to Other Worksheets

Workbooks typically contain three worksheets (although you can easily add or delete sheets which I'll cover in another article). To use or view a different worksheet, click the tab on the bottom of the worksheet. The tabs are labeled Sheet1, Sheet2, and Sheet3 until you rename them.

When you click on a worksheet's tab, the sheet is displayed so you can work on it.

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