Basic Excel – How to Activate, Select, and Edit Cells in Excel

All Excel users should be able to initiate cells and input data into an Excel Worksheet – after all, these are the most basic Excel actions. However, many Excel beginners don’t fully understand the inequity between a cell being ‘activated’ and a cell being in ‘edit mode’. Even the more ended Excel users often don’t know all the distinct ways in which you can plump a range of cell or enter edit mode for cell in Excel.

Edit

When you click on a cell in an Excel Worksheet, the cell is not in edit mode, it is plainly activated. If you start to type, while a cell is activated, your typed text replaces the contents of the activated cell. Or, if you press the left, right, up or down arrow keys on your keyboard, this will move the activation to an adjacent cell (to the left, right, above or below the previously activated cell).

Edit

However, if your cell is in edit mode, the rules change. A cursor appears in the cell (or recipe bar), and anyone you type will be added to the cell, alongside the existing cell contents. Also, when a cell is in edit mode, the right, left, up and down arrow keys on your keyboard cause the cursor to move within the cell.

Basic Excel – How to Activate, Select, and Edit Cells in Excel

So now we have clarified the inequity between activated cells and cells in edit mode, how do we as a matter of fact initiate a cell or range of cells? You can use any of the three main ways listed below:

Single click on the cell with the mouse
Use the left, right, up and down arrow keys on the keyboard, to navigate from a current selection, to the cell you want to activate
Type a reference to the cell in the ‘Name Box’ on the top left of the worksheet – eg. To initiate cell A2, type “A2″ in the Name Box, and then press the return (or enter) key.

Note that you can as a matter of fact see which is the current activated cell, as it is highlighted in Excel by a thick black border.

Often in Excel, you will want to plump a range of cells. Note that, even when you have a range of cells selected in Excel, just one of the cells within the range will be activated (shown by a thick black border). This means that when if you enter data or text, this will overwrite the contents of the activated cell, and when you press the arrows keys on the keyboard, this will initiate distinct cells within the selected range.
There are some ways to plump a range of cells. You can either:

Use the mouse to click on the start of the range and drag over the range that you want to select
Type a reference to the cell range in the ‘Name Box’ on the top left of the worksheet – eg. To plump cells A1 to D4, type “A1:D4″ in the Name Box, and then press the return (or enter) key.
Activate a cell at the start of the range, then press the Shift key. With the Shift key still selected, use the mouse to click on a cell at the end of the range.
Activate a cell at the start of the range, then press the Shift key. With the Shift key still selected, use the left, right, up or down arrow keys on the keyboard, to increase or decrease the selected range, by one cell at a time.
Activate a cell at the start of the range, then press the Shift and Ctrl keys. With these keys still selected, use the left, right, up or down arrow keys on the keyboard, to increase or decrease current selected the range to the end of the current data set (note the selection will end at the next empty cell).

If you want to plump an entire row or column in a worksheet, click on the row number at the left of the worksheet or the column letter at the top of the worksheet, or if you want to plump the whole worksheet, click on the grey/blue square at the top left of the worksheet.

Finally, we look at the three ways to put a cell in edit mode. You can either:

Double click on the cell

Or, plump the cell you want to edit, and then either:

Click on the recipe bar
Press F2

You may initially think that there is no need to learn all the distinct methods of activating, choosing and editing cells. After all, as long as you know one way to plump a range of cells, why bother to learn 4 other ways to do the same thing? However, if you use Excel a lot, you will find that distinct methods are more grand to distinct situations, and that, overall, you will soon save a lot of time by swiftly choosing the most approved recipe on each occasion.