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: Switching Editing Location.

Switching Editing Location

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 30, 2020)

Nick knows that he can edit the contents of a cell either in the Formula bar or directly in the cell itself. He wonders if there is a way, while editing, to switch where the editing is taking place. For instance, if Nick is editing directly in a cell and he decides that he would rather be editing in the Formula bar (or vice versa), he would like to press a key to switch to the same exact place in the opposite editing location.

Excel does not provide a way to switch from one location to the other, nor can you set up a macro to do the switching for you. The reason is because of the two major modes that Excel uses—navigation mode and edit mode.

Navigation mode is when you can do things like use the arrow keys to move around the worksheet. When you press a shortcut key (either built-in or defined by you), Excel runs the command or macro associated with that shortcut.

Edit mode is entered as soon as you start typing something into a cell or when you choose to edit a cell (such as by pressing F2 or by double-clicking on a cell). When you are in edit mode, key presses don't work the same way as when you are in navigation mode. For instance, the right-arrow key doesn't move you to the cell to the right, it moves you a single character to the right within the cell contents. Similarly, you can't press a shortcut key to initiate a macro while you are in edit mode.

Because of these operational modes, the only way to switch your editing location when you are in edit mode (already editing cell contents) is to click the mouse pointer in the other location. Thus, if you were editing directly in the cell, you could click within the Formula bar to start editing there, and vice versa.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10200) 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: Switching Editing Location.

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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