Excel 2013 & 2016: Basic data entry

Updated 2013.08.07


·        To learn how to get help.

·        To learn how to use Excel's undo feature.

·        To learn how to enter data into a cell and edit it later.

·        To learn how to enter arithmetic formulas into cells.

·        To learn how to use Excel's AutoFill feature.

Using Excel help (F1):

·        In the Search box, type Formulas and press the Enter key.

·        In the Search Results list, click on Quick Start: Create a formula.

The most basic commands:

Note that these commands work in most Windows applications.

To achieve this:

Do this:

Get Help!

Press F1

Undo (up to the 16 last actions)

Press Ctrl+Z

Edit a cell

Press F2

Display a pop-up menu

Right-click the mouse, or use the pop-up menu key on keyboard

Entering formulas

To achieve this:

Do this:

Reference a cell

Give the column (a letter) followed by the row (a number), e.g. A1.

Enter a formula into a cell

Begin with an equal sign, e.g. =a1+1

Add two numbers


Subtract two numbers


Multiply two numbers


Divide two numbers


Raise a number to a power


When you mix arithmetic operators, the priority rules are:

(1)  Evaluate any expression in parentheses

(2)  Raise any number to a power

(3)  Do all multiplication and division from left to right

(4)  Do all addition and subtraction from left to right

Select (highlight) cells:


(1)   Drag the mouse over them, while the cursor is a white plus sign or

(2)   Hold shift key down while using cursor movement keys

Format cells:

(1)  Select the cells

(2)  Right-click

(3)  Choose "Format Cells"

(4)  Select the desired tab

(5)  Select the desired formatting option


Copy a formula to adjacent cells:

(1)  Move cursor to lower right corner of formula to be copied

(2)  When the cursor turns into the black fill handle (Description: Description: Description: http://www.briarcliff.edu/departments/cis/Excel/001-A-13.gif), drag it to the cells the formula is to be copied to

Copy a formula to non-adjacent cells:

(1)  Move cursor to the source cell (the cell containing the formula to be copied)

(2)  Copy the formula to the clipboard (<Ctrl>+c)

(3)  Select the destination cells (the cells the formula is to be copied to)

(4)  Paste the formula from the clipboard (<Ctrl>+v)

Copy the values and not the formulas behind those values)

(1)  Select the cells whose values are to be copied.

(2)  Copy them to the clipboard (<ctrl>+c)

(3)  Click the Home tab. In the Clipboard group, click on the Paste button. From the menu, click on Paste Values. Instead of the formulas being copied, the values will be copied.

Sum a column/row

(1)  Move cursor to bottom/right of column/row

(2)  Click the Home tab. Then click on the AutoSum button: Description: Description: Description: http://www.briarcliff.edu/departments/cis/Excel/001-A-14.jpg or https://p3plcpnl0895.prod.phx3.secureserver.net:2078/public_html/Excel/2013/001-A-BasicDataEntryCommands_files/image003.jpg

"Autofill" days

(1)  Enter the first day (e.g. "Monday" or "Mon")

(2)  Then drag right or down, using the fill handle

"Autofill" months

(1)  Enter the first month (e.g. "January or "Jan")

(2)  Then drag right or down, using the fill handle