Most people have probably figured out that I'm not much of an Excel guru. So sometimes things happen in Excel that seem mighty mysterious to me. Recently, I ran across a few tips that explained a few Excel oddities that I'd faced.
For example, here's one a little tip I discovered all by myself. Sometimes I'm trying to enter something into an Excel cell and before I've committed myself to it, I realize that I've done something really dumb. Technically, I can't undo it because I haven't pressed the Enter key yet. But I want to restore the entry that was in the cell before I started doing something dumb. The answer is to press the Esc key. The previous cell contents are restored (what a relief).
Normally, when you type an equal sign (=) in Excel, it assumes you are going to follow that with a formula. Most of the time, that's a good thing. But here's an interesting problem: what if you really want to type an equal sign? Uh oh. The answer is that before you type your equal sign, you need to type an apostrophe, so that you enter '=. When you do this, you are telling Excel that you really are entering an equal sign and not a formula. Don't worry though, after you press Enter, the apostrophe disappears, so it doesn't display.
Here's one final Excel tidbit that's really pretty cool. Suppose you have a list of people who received invitations to a party. You want to add into a spreadsheet that they've either Accepted or Declined the invitation. Rather than typing the words Accepted or Declined endlessly, you can have Excel show you a drop-down list of the content that has previously been typed in a column.
Click the cell and then press Alt+Down Arrow. You see a list of all the entries that have been added in that column. Let go of the Alt key and use the up and down arrow keys to select the entry you want. Now press Enter.
Of course, if you only have two possible entries like the invitation example, this tip is only mildly exciting. But if you have a large spreadsheet with a lot of different, but repeating entries in a column, imagine how much time it could save!