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  • Lowell

Excel AutoFill and Keyboard Shortcuts

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

This post provides a brief summary of using Excel's AutoFill capability and some keyboard shortcuts. I'm providing some animated GIF videos to demonstrate.

I track Covid-19 cases in a few states and counties important to me. I use Excel to store the data and I use the free Tableau Public software to generate graphs stored at!/.

Tableau requires the data to be arranged in columnar format, so my Excel data looks like this. I've been tracking data since March 2020 and I currently have 1347 rows of data on this particular worksheet.

Each day, I duplicate the five county names Anderson, Lexington, Spartanburg, Fulton, and Gwinnett in the County column. I then enter the current date in the Date columns, then look up the total number of cases from my sources and enter that data into the Cases column. Using Excel's auto-fill and keyboard shortcuts, the only thing I have to manually type is the number of cases.

Here's the process.

  1. I select the counties Anderson through Gwinnett by clicking Anderson, pressing and holding the left mouse button and moving the mouse downward. (dragging) until Gwinnett is highlighted.

  2. I drag the Fill Handle of the selected cells until I see Gwinnett appear in the tool tip that appears to right of the cells. Note: If I continue dragging, Excel continues copying the pattern until I release the left mouse button.

  3. I then select the adjacent Date cells in the same manner.

  4. The first selected cell (active cell) has a white background and all other selected cells have a gray background. Your colors may be different if you've modified Excel's settings.

  5. I press CTRL+Semicolon on my keyboard and that enters the current date into the active cell.

  6. Keeping the CTRL key depressed, i press the Enter key to add the current date to all remaining selected cells.

I have provided two videos below. Both replay repeatedly. The first is in slow motion so you can follow the steps outlined above. The second is at my normal speed when I update the data. It takes a tad over eight seconds to complete the process using auto-fill and keyboard shortcuts. I probably could not type one of the county names in eight seconds!

Video 1 Slow Motion

Video 2 Normal Speed


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