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Chapter 27. Customizing Excel to Fit You... > Changing the Default Excel Settings

Changing the Default Excel Settings

Excel enables you to customize many of the default settings for the program. Each of these features is controlled by settings in the Options dialog box. To open this dialog box, choose Tools, Options. The following list describes some suggested changes:

  • Move data entry in a different direction— By default, when you press Enter after typing a cell entry, Excel accepts the entry and moves down to the next cell in that column. In many workbooks, however, moving to the next cell to the right, left, up, or even disabling this option completely would be more useful. You can change the direction that the cell pointer moves. Click the Edit tab in the Options dialog box. In the Direction box, select the direction you want the cell pointer to move, as shown in Figure 27.1. To prevent the cell pointer from moving, deselect the Move Selection After Enter option.

    Figure 27.1. Change the direction of data entry so that pressing Enter moves the active cell right one cell instead of down one cell.


    When entering data using the Enter key, you can control direction in a limited area of the worksheet by selecting that area first. As you enter the data, Excel moves down until you reach the bottom of the first column in the selection and then moves to the top of the next column, and so on. You can also use Tab and Shift+Tab to move left and right instead of changing the direction option to right or left.

  • Control the default number of sheets in a workbook— By default, Excel creates new workbooks with three blank worksheets. You might prefer to start with fewer sheets or more sheets. To change the default number of worksheets in a new workbook, click the General tab in the Options dialog box. In the Sheets in New Workbook box, type or select the number of sheets you want (see Figure 27.2).

    Figure 27.2. You can customize the number of sheets that appear in a new workbook by changing the Sheets in New Workbook setting. Also, notice what the R1C1 Reference Style option does to a worksheet’s column headings. Although available, it is not recommended.

  • Set the default font and point size— Excel defaults to a standard Arial font, but you can change the default font settings to something more appropriate. Click the General tab in the Options dialog box, and change the settings for Standard Font and Size. A warning will display before changes take effect. The warning you get states “For your changes to the standard font to take effect, you must quit and restart Microsoft Excel.” It also gives you no Cancel option.

  • Function ToolTips— The function ToolTips were new to Excel 2002 and appear again in Excel 2003. By default, the function ToolTips are turned on (on the General tab). When you start to write a function in Excel, a small pop-up appears with the syntax to help you understand the order of the arguments.



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