The Excel Skinny

A blog about Excel and its users

This has to be the coolest shortcut for us Microsoft Excel nerds that happen to categorize or use the same labels for multiple cells.  What does this shortcut do?  It displays the AutoComplete list for your Excel spreadsheet. 

I use this often when I’ve been adding comments next to cells and have created a pretty substantial AutoComplete list.  I remember one spreadsheet where I had to manually verify how a list of invoices were paid.  Options included everything from “Credited” to “Open” to payment methods like “Check” or “Wire”.  What is cool about the Excel AutoComplete feature is I only had to type Cr for Credited to autocomplete and just a W for Wire to autocomplete.

Anyways! This shortcut basically drops down a list of all the saved phrases that have been added to the AutoComplete list in your Excel spreadsheet.  This way you can see every comment you have entered more than once.  

Step 1: You must have comments or duplicates in your spreadsheet for Microsoft Excel to recognize an autocomplete list is needed.  Once you have built an autocomplete list (you will know when this is done if Excel tries to autocomplete cells for you) click on a cell that holds an autocomplete phrase.  

I keep track of when I write up the blog posts for shortcuts so Excel has started to autocomplete the dates for me.  For this shortcut to work a cell with an auto-completed entry must be active.

Step 2: Execute the shortcut:

⌥down arrow


Now the Autocomplete list will drop down and you can select an option, or just view what has been added to the list.

My autocomplete isn’t too interesting as you can see, but some lists can become rather large when you are dealing with multiple comments.  This is a great way of keeping track of duplicate comments and such. 


Microsoft Excel for Mac has a few obvious uses. A few blog posts back we covered budgeting in Excel, and how easy it is to set up a simple to use template that does all the calculations for you while you input the data. 

Today we are going to tackle and even simpler use for Microsoft Excel on your Mac. Data Lists. The layout of any spreadsheet is very advantageous when dealing with lists of information. Anything from addresses to contacts to inventory can be listed in an easy to use format in Microsoft Excel for Mac. 

Why is it easier than Microsoft Word, a dedicated word processor? Lets take a look at some data lists in each program and compare.

Here is our list of inventory for our Restaurant Supply store in Microsoft Word:           

And here is the same list in Microsoft Excel:

In my opinion the Microsoft Excel list is easier to read, but that is not the main benefit. The benefit comes from the ease of manipulation. Since our products are in individual cells we can easily remove them, or format them depending on our current inventory. In the Microsoft Word example the list is more of a sentence, and much harder to manipulate without editing the entire entity.

If you like keeping lists of data, but are currently using Microsoft Word, give Microsoft Excel a try! I promise you will find it easier after a few clicks.

And as always, let the Excel Skin team know if you have any questions!