Excel shortcut survey results – Best article

Last week, we released a survey on Excel shortcuts. Based on almost 600 people taking the survey, this post summarizes what we’ve learned so far. The survey is still open for a few more days, and I’ll update this post again once we’ve got final results.

It’s not too late to take the survey, and it takes just a few minutes. Plus, We’re giving away laminated shortcut cards to 10 randomly selected respondents. Survey closes Sunday 9 PM US Pacific Time (Los Angeles).


Results so far (as of Thursday, January 14, 2016 based on just under 600 respondents

People think Excel Shortcuts are important

99% said Excel shortcuts are important, very important, or critical.

Although people who take a shortcut survey are naturally interested, this is surprising to me.

Most people don’t know many Excel shortcuts

30% know 10 or less
60% know between 10 and 50

Note: there are over 200 shortcuts in Excel (>400, if you count both Windows and Mac)

I should have asked about 10-20. My guess is about half of the 60% above are in that range.

Top 5 reasons for learning Excel Shortcuts

  1. Work faster and more efficiently in Excel
  2. Maintain sanity when doing tedious work
  3. Easily manage huge amounts of data
  4. Maintain accuracy and consistency
  5. Better understand how Excel works

I actually think the last item has the most overall “punch”, since shortcuts can teach you how to approach complex problems with the most powerful tools you have available. For example, rather than use a shortcut 100 times to do the same thing (quickly) on a large set of data, you might learn how to complete the entire process in just 2 or 3 steps. Examples here, and here.

People have been using Excel for a long time

73% have been using Excel for more than 5 years
53% have been using Excel for more than 10 years

10 Most popular shortcuts (so far)

  1. Cut, copy, paste – Ctrl X, C, V (Mac: you can also use Command). I guess this is expected, since other applications share the same shortcuts. And, of course, these are shortcuts you’ll use every day.
  2. Extend selection – Control Shift arrow keys (Mac: you can also use Command). These are absolutely critical shortcuts when you’re working with a large set of data and want to extend your selection to the bottom, or any edge.
  3. Autosum – Alt = (Mac: Command Shift T). A classic “magic” shortcut to automatically insert a sum function. You can use autosum to sum rows, columns, or even an entire table in one step (more details here;  autosum demo here).
  4. Paste Special – Control + Alt + V (Mac: Control + Command + V). Paste Special is extremely powerful. You can paste values, paste formulas, paste formatting, and even paste column widths!
  5. Toggle formula references – F4 (Mac: Command Shift T). Who likes to type $ signs? No one. Use this shortcut to quickly rotate through all available formula reference options (A1, $A$1, $A1, A$1).
  6. Select all – Control A (Mac: you can also use Command). This shortcut will select all data in the “same region”. Very useful when you want to select and entire table.
  7. Toggle filters – Control + Shift + L (Mac: Command + Shift + F). An excellent shortcut to clear all filters at once…just use it twice in a row.
  8. Edit cell – F2 (Mac: control + U) to enter “edit mode” for the active cell without taking your hands off the keyboard.
  9. Fill down – Control D. An excellent way to copy values from the cell above without copy paste.
  10. Enter multiple cells – Control + Enter. You’ll be surprised how often you use it once you understand how it works. 

Shortcut resources


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