Excel > Excel 2003 Foundation > Creating a workbook

Entering and Editing Data

To enter data into Excel, click on the cell, type in your data and press Enter.

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After pressing Enter the cell below the current one then becomes the active cell. Other alternatives are:

  • Tab key: Enters the data and the cell to the right of the current cell becomes the active cell
  • Arrow keys: Enters the data and the cell dependent on the direction of the arrow key pressed becomes the active cell
  • Mouse click: Enters the data and the cell clicked becomes the active cell
  • Esc key: Cancels the entry

Enter and Esc are the keyboard alternatives to the tick and cross icons found on the formula bar when entering or editing data.

The Enter and Cancel icons on the Formula Bar

Data Types

Excel handles three types of data; labels, values and formulas.

Labels are the term given to headings and names consisting of text and numbers. Labels are left aligned in a cell.

Values are cells containing numbers and can be used in calculations. Dates are stored as values. Numbers are right aligned in a cell.

Cells containing labels left aligned and values right aligned

Formulas are Excel calculations written by the user and always start with =.

When entering data try and keep it as simple as possible by omitting any currency symbols and commas and use slashes when entering dates. For example enter 40.60 instead of £40.60 and 20/01/2008 not 20.01.2008. The cells are then formatted to display the data they hold correctly.

Changing the width of a column

Occasionally the cell contents may exceed the width of a column making it appear to overwrite the contents of the cell to the right.

Cell contents exceeding a columns width

If this happens and then data is entered into the cell on the right, the content becomes truncated.

Cells contents truncated

To resize the width of the column so that you can see the full contents of the cell, point the mouse pointer over the divider of the two column labels. In the example above this would be the divider between columns B and C.

When you see the resizing arrows (shown below), either click and drag the divider to the right to increase the width of the column, or double click the mouse to autofit the column width. The column will then hug the cell with the largest content in that column.

Resizing arrows

Editing a cell

If you select a cell that already holds data and start typing you will overwrite the existing cell content.

To edit cells content, you need to be in editing mode. To access editing mode, select the cell and press F2, double click or edit the cells content directly in the formula bar and press Enter.

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