Excel Data Input

There are several different ways that you can input data into an Excel spreadsheet. If you spend just a few minutes learning the different methods of data input, this will help you to become much more efficient in your day-to-day work, and could save hours in the long term.

Cell Edit Mode

The most common way to enter data into Excel is to simply select a cell and type directly into it. When you do this, the cell is automatically put into edit mode.

If you then press Enter or select a different cell in your spreadsheet, the typed content remains in the cell and the cell exits edit mode.

If you later select the same cell and begin to type, this will overwrite the existing cell contents with the new text.

Therefore, if you simply want to add to, or edit the contents of a cell, without deleting the existing cell cell content, you need to put the cell back into edit mode before you start to enter the new data.

You can put a spreadsheet cell into edit mode by either:

Excel Cell in Edit Mode

When a cell is in edit mode, a cursor appears (either in the cell or in the formula bar), and when you type or paste data into the cell, it appears alongside the existing cell contents. Also, when a cell is in edit mode, you can move your cursor through the cell contents, using either the mouse, or the left, right, up and down arrow keys on your keyboard.

Entering a Single Value Into a Range of Cells

Step 1 of Populating Multiple Cells
Highlight cells and type required text or value
Step 2 of Populating Multiple Cells
Ctrl+Enter populates all cells

If you want to enter the same value into several cells, you can quickly do this as follows:

This copies the text you have typed into all of the cells in the selected range.

Inputting a Series of Values

If you want to enter a series of values (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, ...) into a range of cells, this can be done using the Excel Autofill.

See the Excel Autofill page for details of how to do this.

Importing Data Into Excel

If you have data in a different file format, you can import this into Excel. For example, to import data from a text file:

  1. Select the From Text option from the Get External Data group with the Data tab of the Excel ribbon.

    Import Text Command on the Excel Ribbon
  2. Use the browser to locate the text file with your data in it.

Excel then takes you through a series of steps in which you can specifiy how the data in the text file is to be split into separate columns, how the data is formatted in the columns, and where, in your spreadsheet, you want to paste the imported data.

Copy and Paste

Often, you simply need to copy the contents of an existing cell or range of cells into other parts of your worksheet. There are numerous ways to do this, which are explained in detail in the Excel Copy & Paste page.