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Enter data manually in worksheet cells

You have several options when you want to enter data manually in Excel. You can enter data in one cell, in several cells at the same time, or on more than one worksheet at once. The data that you enter can be numbers, text, dates, or times. You can format the data in a variety of ways. And, there are several settings that you can adjust to make data entry easier for you.

This topic does not explain how to use a data form to enter data in worksheet. For more information about working with data forms, see Add, edit, find, and delete rows by using a data form.

Important: If you can't enter or edit data in a worksheet, it might have been protected by you or someone else to prevent data from being changed accidentally. On a protected worksheet, you can select cells to view the data, but you won't be able to type information in cells that are locked. In most cases, you should not remove the protection from a worksheet unless you have permission to do so from the person who created it. To unprotect a worksheet, click Unprotect Sheet in the Changes group on the Review tab. If a password was set when the worksheet protection was applied, you must first type that password to unprotect the worksheet.

  1. On the worksheet, click a cell.

  2. Type the numbers or text that you want to enter, and then press ENTER or TAB.

    To enter data on a new line within a cell, enter a line break by pressing ALT+ENTER.

  1. On the File tab, click Options.

  2. Click Advanced, and then under Editing options, select the Automatically insert a decimal point check box.

  3. In the Places box, enter a positive number for digits to the right of the decimal point or a negative number for digits to the left of the decimal point.

    For example, if you enter 3 in the Places box and then type 2834 in a cell, the value will appear as 2.834. If you enter -3 in the Places box and then type 283, the value will be 283000.

  4. On the worksheet, click a cell, and then enter the number that you want.

    Data that you typed in cells before selecting the Fixed decimal option is not affected.

    To temporarily override the Fixed decimal option, type a decimal point when you enter the number.

  1. On the worksheet, click a cell.

  2. Type a date or time as follows:

    • To enter a date, use a slash mark or a hyphen to separate the parts of a date; for example, type 9/5/2002 or 5-Sep-2002.

    • To enter a time that is based on the 12-hour clock, enter the time followed by a space, and then type a or p after the time; for example, 9:00 p. Otherwise, Excel enters the time as AM.

      To enter the current date and time, press Ctrl+Shift+; (semicolon).

  • To enter a date or time that stays current when you reopen a worksheet, you can use the TODAY and NOW functions.

  • When you enter a date or a time in a cell, it appears either in the default date or time format for your computer or in the format that was applied to the cell before you entered the date or time. The default date or time format is based on the date and time settings in the Regional and Language Options dialog box (Control Panel, Clock, Language, and Region). If these settings on your computer have been changed, the dates and times in your workbooks that have not been formatted by using the Format Cells command are displayed according to those settings.

  • To apply the default date or time format, click the cell that contains the date or time value, and then press Ctrl+Shift+# or Ctrl+Shift+@.

  1. Select the cells into which you want to enter the same data. The cells do not have to be adjacent.

  2. In the active cell, type the data, and then press Ctrl+Enter.

    You can also enter the same data into several cells by using the fill handle to automatically fill data in worksheet cells.

    For more information, see the article Fill data automatically in worksheet cells.

By making multiple worksheets active at the same time, you can enter new data or change existing data on one of the worksheets, and the changes are applied to the same cells on all the selected worksheets.

  1. Click the tab of the first worksheet that contains the data that you want to edit. Then hold down Ctrl while you click the tabs of other worksheets in which you want to synchronize the data.

    Tab scrolling buttons

    Note: If you don't see the tab of the worksheet that you want, click the tab scrolling buttons to find the worksheet, and then click its tab. If you still can't find the worksheet tabs that you want, you might have to maximize the document window.

  2. On the active worksheet, select the cell or range in which you want to edit existing or enter new data.

  3. In the active cell, type new data or edit the existing data, and then press Enter or Tab to move the selection to the next cell.

    The changes are applied to all the worksheets that you selected.

  4. Repeat the previous step until you have completed entering or editing data.

  • To cancel a selection of multiple worksheets, click any unselected worksheet. If an unselected worksheet is not visible, you can right-click the tab of a selected worksheet, and then click Ungroup Sheets.

  • When you enter or edit data, the changes affect all the selected worksheets and can inadvertently replace data that you didn't mean to change. To help avoid this, you can view all the worksheets at the same time to identify potential data conflicts.

    1. On the View tab, in the Window group, click New Window.

    2. Switch to the new window, and then click a worksheet that you want to view.

    3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for each worksheet that you want to view.

    4. On the View tab, in the Window group, click Arrange All, and then click the option that you want.

    5. To view worksheets in the active workbook only, in the Arrange Windows dialog box, select the Windows of active workbook check box.

There are several settings in Excel that you can change to help make manual data entry easier. Some changes affect all workbooks, some affect the whole worksheet, and some affect only the cells that you specify.

Change the direction for the Enter key

When you press Tab to enter data in several cells in a row and then press Enter at the end of that row, by default, the selection moves to the start of the next row.

Pressing Enter moves the selection down one cell, and pressing Tab moves the selection one cell to the right. You cannot change the direction of the move for the Tab key, but you can specify a different direction for the Enter key. Changing this setting affects the whole worksheet, any other open worksheets, any other open workbooks, and all new workbooks.

  1. On the File tab, click Options.

  2. In the Advanced category, under Editing options, select the After pressing Enter, move selection check box, and then click the direction that you want in the Direction box.

Change the width of a column

At times, a cell might display #####. This can occur when the cell contains a number or a date and the width of its column cannot display all the characters that its format requires. For example, suppose a cell with the Date format "mm/dd/yyyy" contains 12/31/2015. However, the column is only wide enough to display six characters. The cell will display #####. To see the entire contents of the cell with its current format, you must increase the width of the column.

  1. Click the cell for which you want to change the column width.

  2. On the Home tab, in the Cells group, click Format.

    Cells group on the Home tab

  3. Under Cell Size, do one of the following:

    • To fit all text in the cell, click AutoFit Column Width.

    • To specify a larger column width, click Column Width, and then type the width that you want in the Column width box.

Note: As an alternative to increasing the width of a column, you can change the format of that column or even an individual cell. For example, you could change the date format so that a date is displayed as only the month and day ("mm/dd" format), such as 12/31, or represent a number in a Scientific (exponential) format, such as 4E+08.

Wrap text in a cell

You can display multiple lines of text inside a cell by wrapping the text. Wrapping text in a cell does not affect other cells.

  1. Click the cell in which you want to wrap the text.

  2. On the Home tab, in the Alignment group, click Wrap Text.

    Alignment group on the Home tab

Note: If the text is a long word, the characters won't wrap (the word won't be split); instead, you can widen the column or decrease the font size to see all the text. If all the text is not visible after you wrap the text, you might have to adjust the height of the row. On the Home tab, in the Cells group, click Format, and then under Cell Size click AutoFit Row.

For more information on wrapping text, see the article Wrap text in a cell.

Change the format of a number

In Excel, the format of a cell is separate from the data that is stored in the cell. This display difference can have a significant effect when the data is numeric. For example, when a number that you enter is rounded, usually only the displayed number is rounded. Calculations use the actual number that is stored in the cell, not the formatted number that is displayed. Hence, calculations might appear inaccurate because of rounding in one or more cells.

After you type numbers in a cell, you can change the format in which they are displayed.

  1. Click the cell that contains the numbers that you want to format.

  2. On the Home tab, in the Number group, click the arrow next to the Number Format box, and then click the format that you want.

    Format Number box on the Home tab

    To select a number format from the list of available formats, click More Number Formats, and then click the format that you want to use in the Category list.

Format a number as text

For numbers that should not be calculated in Excel, such as phone numbers, you can format them as text by applying the Text format to empty cells before typing the numbers.

  1. Select an empty cell.

  2. On the Home tab, in the Number group, click the arrow next to the Number Format box, and then click Text.

    Format Number box on the Home tab

  3. Type the numbers that you want in the formatted cell.

    Numbers that you entered before you applied the Text format to the cells must be entered again in the formatted cells. To quickly reenter numbers as text, select each cell, press F2, and then press Enter.

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