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Entering Text

Text is any combination of letters, numbers, and spaces. By default, text is automatically left-aligned in a cell, whereas numerical data is right-aligned.

To enter text into a cell, follow these steps:

  1. Use your mouse or the keyboard arrows to select the cell in which you want to enter text.

  2. Type the text. As you type, your text appears in the cell and in the Formula bar, as shown in Figure 3.1.

    Figure 3.1. Data that you enter into a cell also appears in the Formula bar as you type it.

  3. Press Enter. Your text appears in the cell, left-aligned. The cell selector moves down one cell. You also can press Tab or an arrow key to enter the text and move to the next cell to the right (or in the direction of the arrow).


But My Entry Doesn't Fit! When text does not fit into a cell (because of the column width set for that column), Excel displays the information in one of two ways: If the next cell is empty, the text overflows into that cell, allowing you to see your entire entry. If the cell to the right of your entry is not empty, you will be able to see only the portion of your entry that fits within the confines of the cell. This can easily be redmedied by changing the column width. You'll learn about changing column widths in Lesson 14, "Inserting and Removing Cells, Rows, and Columns."


Entering Numbers As Text To enter a number that you want treated as text (such as a ZIP code), precede the entry with a single quotation mark ('), as in '46220. The single quotation mark is an alignment prefix that tells Excel to treat the following characters as text and left-align them in the cell. You do not have to do this to "text" numerical entries, but it ensures that they will not be mistakenly acted upon by formulas or functions.

Tips on Entering Column and Row Labels

Column and row labels identify your data. Column labels appear across the top of the worksheet beneath the worksheet title (if any). Row labels are entered on the left side of the worksheet.

Column labels describe what the numbers in a column represent. Typically, column labels specify time intervals such as years, months, days, quarters, and so on. Row labels describe what the numbers in each row represent. Typically, row labels specify data categories, such as product names, employee names, or income and expense items in a budget.

When entering your column labels, enter the first label and press the Tab key instead of pressing Enter. This moves you to the next cell on the right so that you can enter another column label. When entering row labels, use the down-arrow key instead of the Tab key. Figure 3.2 shows the various labels for a quarterly sales summary.

Figure 3.2. Column and row headings serve as labels for the data you enter on the worksheet.

If you need to enter similar data (such as a series of months or years) as column or row labels, you can enter them quickly as a series; this technique is discussed later in this lesson.

Adding Comments to Cells

Although not really considered cell content (such as labels and values), you can add comments to particular cells. These comments allow you to associate information with a cell—information that does not appear (by default) with the worksheet when sent to the printer.

Comments are similar to placing a Post-it note on a cell, reminding you that an outstanding issue is related to that cell. For example, if you need to check the value that you've placed in a particular cell to make sure that it's accurate, you can place a comment in the cell (see Figure 3.3). Cells containing comments are marked with a red triangle in the upper-right corner of the cell. To view a comment, place the mouse pointer on the comment triangle.

Figure 3.3. Comments can be added to cells as a kind of electronic Post-it note.

To insert a comment into a cell, follow these steps:

  1. Click the cell in which you want to place the comment.

  2. Select Insert, Comment. A comment box appears next to the cell.

  3. Type your information into the comment box.

  4. Click anywhere else in the worksheet to close the comment box.

You also can easily remove comments from cells. Select the cell, and then select Edit and point at Clear. On the cascading menu, select Comments to remove the comment.

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