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: Controlling Where You Edit Cell Contents.

Controlling Where You Edit Cell Contents

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 31, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


By default, Excel allows you to edit cell information either in the Formula bar or in the cell itself. (Select the cell and press F2, or simply double-click on a cell.) You may want to turn the in-cell editing feature off, however. To do this, you can follow these steps:

  1. Select Options from the Tools menu. Excel displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Edit tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Edit tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Clear the Edit Directly In Cell check box to turn off in-cell editing.
  5. Click on OK.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3023) 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: Controlling Where You Edit Cell Contents.

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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