Entering Text: MS Excel

Dennis Faas's picture

Cells in an Excel worksheet can contain five kinds of entries; each one is handled a little differently. For example:

  • Text is any word or combination of letters and numbers. Text is automatically left-aligned in the cell. The text too long for the cell overlaps any blank cells to the right.
  • Numbers, such as 2,340 or 82%, form the basis for all your calculations. They're automatically right-aligned in the cell to keep the columns of numbers lined up.
  • Dates and times are curious types of numbers. Although they may contain words, such as January and PM, Excel knows what you mean and changes them into values you can use in calculations.
  • Formulas (such as x+y that you used in algebra), specify the calculations you want Excel to make based on numbers in the worksheet. They always begin with an equal sign (=).
  • Comment are a way to communicate directions or information without typing directly in a cell. You can tell a comment is in a cell by a small red triangle in the upper-right corner. Read comments by placing the mouse pointer over the cell and pausing. To create a comment, simply click the cell where you want the comment to be and choose Insert | Comment. In the comment box that appears, type the comment. When you are finished, click elsewhere. The red triangle appears in the corner of the cell.

To build a worksheet, you must first enter numbers and the text that describes them.

Entering Text

Text that is typed will always appear in the active cell.

  1. Click the cell where you want the text to appear. The bold border moves to this cell, showing that it is the active cell.
  2. Type the text. What you type appears in the active cell and in the formula bar. If you make a mistake while typing, press Backspace and correct it.
  3. When you have completed the contents for one cell, press Enter.

The text you typed is deposited into the cell. The bold border moves down to the next row; if it remains in the same cell, use the down arrow key to move it down to the next row.

If the text is longer than the width of the cell, it flows to the right and overlaps any blank cells. However, if something is in the cell to the right, the text appears to be cut off. Don't worry -- the text is intact and will appear when you widen the column (that's a different article coming in the future called Edit Worksheet Contents).

After you're done typing, you can complete the cell entry any of these ways:

  • Press Enter to move down one cell.
  • Press Tab to move to the right one cell.
  • Press an arrow key to move one cell any direction.
  • Click any other cell to move directly there.
  • Click the check mark on the formula bar.

That's it!

Visit Carol's web site to learn more tips like this one!

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