A lot of analysts swear strong allegiance to keyboard shortcuts. But when it comes to formatting a spreadsheet, these shortcuts go for a toss as formatting is a mouse-heavy activity.
But we can use a few simple & effective shortcuts to zip through various day to day formatting tasks. Let me share my favorite formatting shortcuts.
1. CTRL+1 – Format anything
This universal shortcut is powerful and very easy to memorize. Select anything (cells, chart objects, drawing shapes, pictures etc.) and press CTRL+1 to instantly launch format dialog box.
2. ALT EST (or ALT HVE) – Format painter
If you want to copy the formatting from one thing to another (like formatting of a bunch of cells to another range, a chart to another chart), you can use Format painter. Simply copy the original object (CTRL+C), select the target object and press ALT+EST (one key after another). You may also use ALT+HVE (again one key after another) in all modern versions of Excel.
3. ALT HH – Fill color
Now comes the tricky one. If you want to fill some color in a chart object, drawing shape, cell or something else, you can select it, press ALT HH. This activates the fill color box. Here, you can use arrow keys to select the color you want and press enter to fill it.
4. ALT HFC – Font color
This is same as above. FC is a short for Font Color. Press they keys one after another and the font color box opens up. Just use arrow keys to pick the color you want and press enter.
5. F4 – Repeat last action
Let’s say you want to fill yellow color in a bunch of cells. But these cells are not together. So you to the first one, press ALT HH and fill yellow color. Now, you go to the second cell. Will you press ALT HH again? No silly, you just press F4. This fills yellow color in the second cell (and all other subsequent cells) for you.
The F4 key works great when formatting charts too. You can format one series (or chart element the way you want), select other items and press F4.
6. Alt key, for everything else
Anything that is on ribbon in Excel can be accessed with ALT key and a sequence of letters/numbers. For example, if you wanted to send a few drawing shapes to back, you can use the sequence – ALT PAEB
Of course, there is no point memorizing such sequences. Instead, you can look at ribbon while pressing the ALT key and learn the shortcuts on the go. See this demo:
What are your favorite formatting shortucts?
My favorites are CTRL+1, ALT EST & F4. I use them almost every time I format something.
What about you? How do you format faster? Please share your tips & shortcuts in the comments box.
Want more formatting? Check out these tips
If you are formatting is slow & sluggish, boost it with below tips.