Master Excel: Top Keyboard Shortcuts Every Accountant Must Know

MS Excel is an indispensable tool in the world of accounting, especially in India, where it is widely used for financial analysis, reporting, and data management. The ability to efficiently navigate and manipulate data in Excel can significantly improve an accountant’s productivity and accuracy. One way to achieve this is by mastering keyboard shortcuts. This article will discuss the benefits of using keyboard shortcuts in MS Excel for accountants, provide a list of essential shortcuts, and offer strategies for learning and adopting them in daily workflows.

Essential Keyboard Shortcuts for Accountants

1. Navigation Shortcuts

Navigating through large datasets quickly can save accountants valuable time. Here are some essential navigation shortcuts:

i) Moving between cells, rows, and columns: Use the arrow keys to move between adjacent cells. For faster navigation, press Ctrl + arrow key to jump to the edge of the current data region.

ii) Jumping to the first or last cell: Press Ctrl + Home to go to cell A1, or Ctrl + End to go to the last used cell in the worksheet.

iii) Navigating between worksheets: Switch between worksheets by pressing Ctrl + Page Up or Ctrl + Page Down.

2. Data Entry and Editing Shortcuts

These shortcuts can help accountants quickly enter and edit data:

i) Copying and pasting: Use Ctrl + C to copy and Ctrl + V to paste. For pasting special options, press Ctrl + Alt + V.

ii) Undo and redo actions: Press Ctrl + Z to undo the last action, and Ctrl + Y to redo it.

iii) Clearing and deleting data: To clear the contents of a cell, press Delete. To delete a row or column, select it and press Ctrl + -.

3. Formatting Shortcuts

Proper formatting is crucial for presenting financial data. Use these shortcuts to format your worksheets:

i) Applying common cell formats: Press Ctrl + Shift + ~ for general format, Ctrl + Shift + ! for number format, and Ctrl + Shift + $ for currency format (Indian Rupees).

ii) Aligning text and numbers: Align text to the left by pressing Ctrl + L, and to the right with Ctrl + R. For center alignment, press Ctrl + E.

iii) Applying borders and shading: Use Ctrl + Shift + & to apply an outline border and Ctrl + Shift + _ to remove it. For shading, press Alt + H + H and select the desired color.

4. Formula and Function Shortcuts

Accountants often use formulas and functions to perform complex calculations. These shortcuts can help:

i) AutoSum and other commonly used functions: Press Alt + = to use AutoSum. For other functions, press Shift + F3 to open the Insert Function dialog box.

ii) Inserting cell references: To insert an absolute reference, press F4 while typing a cell reference in a formula. This will add $ symbols, which lock the cell reference.

iii) Editing and troubleshooting formulas: Press F2 to edit a cell formula without accidentally overwriting it. To evaluate parts of a formula, select the part and press F9.

Keyboard Shortcuts for Data Analysis

Excel offers powerful tools for data analysis, such as filtering, sorting, and PivotTables. Here are some shortcuts that can help accountants analyze data more efficiently:

1. Filtering and Sorting Data

i) Applying filters: Select a cell within your data range and press Ctrl + Shift + L to apply filters.

ii) Sorting data: To sort data in ascending order, press Alt + A + S + A. For descending order, press Alt + A + S + D.

2. Using PivotTables and PivotCharts

i) Creating a PivotTable: Select the data range and press Alt + N + V to create a PivotTable.

ii) Inserting a PivotChart: After creating a PivotTable, press Alt + N + Z to insert a PivotChart based on the PivotTable data.

3. Conditional Formatting

Applying conditional formatting: Select the desired range and press Alt + H + L to open the conditional formatting menu.

Time-saving Excel Tricks for Accountants

1. Customizing the Quick Access Toolbar

Adding frequently used commands: Right-click the Quick Access Toolbar and choose Customize Quick Access Toolbar to add or remove commands.

2. Creating and Using Templates

i) Saving a workbook as a template: Click File > Save As > Browse, and choose Excel Template (*.xltx) as the file type.

ii) Using a custom template: Click File > New > Personal, and choose the desired template.

3. Recording and Using Macros

i) Recording a macro: Press Alt + F11 to open the Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) editor. Click Record Macro, perform the desired actions, and click Stop Recording.

ii) Running a macro: Press Alt + F8, select the macro, and click Run.

Strategies for Learning and Adopting Keyboard Shortcuts

i) Prioritizing shortcuts based on personal needs: Focus on learning shortcuts relevant to your daily tasks.

ii) Using cheat sheets and reference guides: Keep a cheat sheet or reference guide handy to quickly look up shortcuts.

iii) Practicing regularly and tracking progress: Consistently practice using shortcuts and track your progress to reinforce learning.


Mastering keyboard shortcuts in MS Excel can significantly enhance an accountant’s productivity and accuracy. By integrating these shortcuts into your daily workflow, you can expect to save time and reduce the risk of errors. Don’t hesitate to learn and adopt these shortcuts, as the productivity gains they offer can be invaluable for accounting professionals.

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