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 Entry Order on Unprotected Cells.

Controlling Entry Order on Unprotected Cells

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 30, 2016)

Rob has a number of worksheets that are used to score assessments. The first worksheet has cells for name, date, etc., then several columns to enter the multiple-choice responses. The sheet is protected, so only input cells can be changed. When the user finishes the last cell in a column, the focus will jump to the next unprotected cell, which may be the first cell in the next column, or it might be the "date" cell. Rob wonders how he can control the focus so that when the value is entered into the last (bottom) cell in a column, it will then move to a cell that he specifies.

There is no built-in way to do this in Excel, as the program determines its own order of choosing which cell is next selected. You can modify which cell is selected next when you press Enter in a worksheet, but you cannot modify what happens when you press Tab in a protected worksheet. By default cells are selected left to right and then top to bottom in the worksheet.

If you want to modify what happens when the Tab key is pressed, then you'll need to resort to using a macro to control the selection order. The following macro is an example; it moves to cell D5 when leaving cell C10 and to E5 when leaving cell D10:

Private Sub Worksheet_Change(ByVal Target As Range)
    Application.EnableEvents = False
    If Target.Address = "$C$10" Then Range("D5").Select
    If Target.Address = "$D$10" Then Range("E5").Select
    Application.EnableEvents = True
End Sub

The problem with using a VBA solution like this is that it can make your spreadsheet—particularly if it is a large one—a bit more sluggish. By their nature, macros also mean that the Undo feature is disabled.

If your tab order needs are more complex, then you may be interested in the code discussed at this web page:

http://www.ozgrid.com/forum/showthread.php?t=82272

As you can tell, the code can get rather complex at times. Of course, such an approach, since it stipulates all cell-to-cell movement, makes it more difficult to make changes to the design of the worksheet itself.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10313) 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 Entry Order on Unprotected 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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Understanding Variables in VBA Macros

You can create and use all sorts of variables in your macros. This tip examines all the different data types you can specify.

Discover More

Using the Control Panel to Remove Programs

Removing programs that you no longer need can help to free up system resources and keep your system clean and running ...

Discover More

Returning the Left-most Characters

When working with text in a formula, you may need to extract the left-most characters from a string of text or from a cell. ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

MORE EXCELTIPS (MENU)

Locking Worksheet Names

Want to stop other people from changing the names of your worksheets? You can provide the desired safeguard by using the ...

Discover More

Protecting a Single Worksheet

Excel allows you to protect your worksheets easily—and that includes if you need to protect only a single worksheet out ...

Discover More

Visually Showing a Protection Status

Need to know if a worksheet or workbook is currently protected? Excel provides some tell-tale signs, but here are some ways ...

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:

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 7 + 8?

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


Newest Tips
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