Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Editing Individual Cells.

Editing Individual Cells

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 20, 2015)

If you have been using Excel for any length of time, you probably already know how to enter information into cells and later change that information. If you are new to Excel, however, editing information quickly and efficiently can take a while to master. Fortunately, Excel allows you to quickly and easily edit information you previously entered into a cell.

There are three ways you can edit the information, once you select the cell you want to edit. The first is to just begin typing. If you do this, the information you type replaces the current contents of the cell.

The second way to edit a cell is to use the mouse to point to the contents of the cell on the formula bar. As you move the mouse pointer over the cell information, notice that it changes to an I-beam. Position the I-beam where you want to make an edit and then click the mouse button. The cursor appears at that point within the cell contents, and you can begin editing. Whatever you type is added to the line (you can also drag the I-beam across several characters with the mouse; then what you type replaces the selected text). You can also use the cursor-control keys, as follows:

Key Alone With Ctrl Key
Home Start of line Start of cell
End End of line End of cell
Left Arrow Left one character Left one word
Right Arrow Right one character Right one word
Up Arrow Up one line Up one line
Down Arrow Down one line Down one line

As with many word processors, you can also use the Shift key with the cursor-control keys. This will result in selecting adjacent characters within the cell contents. If you then release the Shift key and type any other information, what you type replaces the selected characters. When you have finished editing the contents of the cell, press Enter.

The final method of editing information is to do it directly within the cell. This is done by either using the mouse to double-click on the cell you want to edit, or by selecting the cell and pressing the F2 key. When you do this, the full contents of the cell appear right in the middle of your worksheet, and you can edit those contents.

When you are editing cells in this manner, all the editing keys function as described earlier. The only difference is where the editing occurs, not how it occurs.

Notice, as well, that if you use cell or range references in a formula that is being edited in the cell, the cells reference in the formula are highlighted in blue in the worksheet. This makes it easy for you to locate references within your worksheet.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2092) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Editing Individual Cells.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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