Entering data

The basics

How do I store data in Microsoft Excel?

To store data in Microsoft Excel, a spreadsheet will contain numerous boxes called cells. It is these cells where you type the data.

Tell me more about cells!

Not a problem. If you look at a typical spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel, you will see what appears to be an endless supply of these cells organised as columns (represented by letters) and rows (represented by numbers) as shown below:

As you can see from this example, the first cell has been highlighted for you with a subtle grey outline box and the way the letter A and the number 1 appear to pop out at you. We call this cell A1 (an umimaginatively name for now but we will later explain how to give these cells or even whole groups of cells a more meaningful name). In other words, the cell shown here is in column A and row 1. When a cell is highlighted like this, it means you are ready to enter some data into it.

Okay, so let's try entering some data. Go ahead! Don't be afraid. Microsoft Excel is not going to spit the dummy if you decide to press all sorts of letters, symbols and numbers from your keyboard. Feel free to type some letters, symbols and/or numbers from the keyboard into the cell. Press the Return key or the Enter key to tell Microsoft Excel to store the data into the cell. When pressing the Return key, you will notice how the next cell below the first one is suddenly highlighted and ready for you to enter data. If you press the Enter key, the cell you have just entered some data remains highlighted ready for you to change the data already stored inside it.

If you want to store data in the current cell and move to the cell immediately to the right instead of a downward direction, try pressing the Tab key. The Tab key is like your Return key. The only difference is that you can move to the right.

For greater navigational versatility, try pressing the Up, Down, Left and Right Arrow keys on your keyboard. Again these buttons act like the familiar Return key with the exception that you can specify where you want to go next (now that sounds like a familiar Microsoft marketing message).

How do I change specific data in a cell?

As you may have noticed, you can change the entire contents of a cell simply by moving into the cell and typing some data. But you may be wondering, "How do I change just one friggin' letter in the text I've just typed into a cell?"

No problems. If you look just above the spreadsheet, there is a thing called the formula bar. It looks kind of like the following:

On the left side of the formula bar is the name of the cell which in this case is A6. This is the cell we will make a change to its data. If you select A6 inside the formula bar, you can change it to another more meaningful name if you like. Try typing the word "fruit" for the sake of it. Press the return key and the cell will be named as you want it. At least you now know how to change the name of one of your cells.

However, the thing that really helps you to change a specific piece of data entered into the cell is the area next to the equal (=) sign on the formula bar. The area is where you can see your data in the cell being duplicated. Put your cursor anywhere in between or to the left or right of the characters of this duplicated data and click the mouse button once. You will see the cursor flashing in this area of the formula bar.

Now change the text to what you want.

Happy? Okay. Press the Return or Enter key. Or click the green tick mark next to the equal (=) sign on the formula bar. The cell containing your data should reflect the changes you wanted to make to it.