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: Automatically Moving from Cell to Cell when Entering Data.

Automatically Moving from Cell to Cell when Entering Data

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 26, 2016)

Sheila has a worksheet in which a series of four-digit numbers needs to be entered. She would like a way where Enter or Tab doesn't need to be pressed between each entry. In other words, after each fourth digit is pressed, Sheila wants Excel to automatically advance to the next cell.

Excel does not provide this type of data entry as an option. You can, however, create a macro to handle the data entry. One way is to use a simple macro that prompts the user for a string of characters. When the user presses Enter (to signify that the string is complete), then the macro takes each successive four-character chunk and puts them in consecutive cells.

Sub FourCharEntry1()
    Dim str As String
    Dim x As Integer
    Dim y As Integer

    str = InputBox("Enter string")
    y = 0
    For x = 1 To Len(str) Step 4
        ActiveCell.Offset(0, y) = "'" & Mid(str, x, 4)
        y = y + 1
    Next
End Sub

Notice that the macro, as it is putting four-character chunks into cells, makes sure that each chunk is preceded by an apostrophe. The reason for this is to handle those instances when the four-character chunk may consist of only numbers and those numbers begin with one or more zeroes. Adding the apostrophe makes sure that Excel treats the cell entry as text and the leading zeroes won't be wiped out.

You could, as well, avoid the use of an InputBox by simply allowing someone to enter text into a cell in the worksheet. The person could type away as much as desired (thousands of characters, if necessary). Then, with the cell selected, you could run a macro that will pull the information from the cell and perform the same task—breaking it up into four-character chunks. The following macro does just that:

Sub FourCharEntry2()
    Dim str As String
    Dim x As Integer
    Dim y As Integer

    str = ActiveCell.Value
    y = 0
    For x = 1 To Len(str) Step 4
        ActiveCell.Offset(0, y) = "'" & Mid(str, x, 4)
        y = y + 1
    Next
End Sub

Another approach is to use a custom user form for the user input. The form provides a much richer interaction with VBA, so you can actually have it stuff information into cells after every fourth character is entered.

Start by creating a user form (as described in other issues of ExcelTips) that contains two controls—a text box and a button. Name the text box vText and associate the following code with it:

Private Sub vText_Change() 
    If Len(vText) = 4 Then
        ActiveCell = vText
        ActiveCell.Offset(0, 1).Activate
        UserForm1.vText.Value = ""
    End If
End Sub

This simply runs every time the contents of the text box change (i.e., when you type each character) and then checks the length of whatever it contains. When the length reaches 4 the code takes those characters and stuffs them into a cell. The contents of vText are then emptied.

The name of the button you create in the user form doesn't really matter. It will be used as a way to close the user form, and should have the following code associated with it:

Private Sub Cancel_Click()
    Unload UserForm1
End Sub

When you are ready to use the user form, simply select the cell where you want input to start and then run the following macro:

Sub Start()
    UserForm1.Show
End Sub

The user form appears and you can start typing away. When you are done, just click the button and the user form is closed.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3923) 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: Automatically Moving from Cell to Cell when Entering Data.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Automatically Adding Captions

Word can automatically add captions to various elements of your document, such as tables or figures. Here's how to configure ...

Discover More

Using the Drawing Grid

One of the lesser-known drawing tools provided in Word is the drawing grid. You can easily turn this feature on and use it to ...

Discover More

Returning a Blank Value

Is it possible for a formula to return a blank value? It depends on how you define your terms. This tip examines all the ins ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

MORE EXCELTIPS (MENU)

How Many Rows and Columns Have I Selected?

Want a quick way to tell how may rows and columns you've selected? Here's what I do when I need to know that information.

Discover More

Concatenating Ranges of Cells

Putting the contents of two cells together is easy. Putting together the contents of lots of cells is more involved, as ...

Discover More

Symbols Convert to Numbers in Excel

Insert a symbol into a cell, and it should stay there, right? What if the symbol changes to another character, such as a ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments for this tip:

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)

This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.

Links and Sharing
Share