The Pros and Cons of Keyboard Shortcuts in Excel


If you are a Microsoft Excel user than chances are you run across a few keyboard shortcuts that you found helpful. Or maybe you’re tired of being constantly tied to your mouse and having to hunt around in the ribbon or toolbars to find the command you need. Either way, this article should help you understand the value and sometimes detriment of the many Excel keyboard shortcuts that are built into the interface. Upon reading these tips you will have a clear understanding of the pros and cons of keeping your hands on the keyboard and away from the mouse when using Excel.

Improve Speed and Efficiency

Obviously, the word shortcut implies that there is a certain amount of time saving going on here. The main point of a keyboard shortcut is that you don’t have to remove your hands from the keys to grab the mouse – you simply enter a keystroke or combination of keystrokes and it accomplishes the same thing that you would get by clicking on the toolbar. Using these shortcuts can allow you to accomplish the same amount of work in less time, causes less wasted movement, and literally puts some powerful Excel commands at your fingertips. Not only that, but it can help reinforce your overall knowledge of Excel’s capabilities.

Improve Your Familiarity With Excel Overall

When you learn the shortcut for a command, such as Ctrl-Z for the Undo command, it improves your overall familiarity with the Excel interface. You will be more apt to try new commands and remember that they exist if there is a quick and easy way to perform it. Because you become more familiar with all of Excel’s capabilities, you may be inclined to use it more often in your work and try it with new tasks. This will again reinforce your overall Excel skills, but there are also some detrimental factors with using shortcuts.

Potential Problems

Although saving time and movement can have a great effect on your productivity, it’s not all warm and fuzzies. One problem is that by limiting your overall range of movement over long periods of time, you risk some physical issues. For one, without the chance to rest your hands from typing you may encounter more muscle fatigue, which is obviously counterproductive to getting more work done. Since you won’t be moving your eyes to the top of the screen as frequently to find commands, you may end up with more eye fatigue as well. Finally, there is a real possibility of carpal tunnel or other repetitive stress injury.

To avoid these problems, you should make sure to take frequent breaks from your computer throughout the day and make sure you stretch your arms and hands to keep them flexible and reduce tension. As you can see, there are many benefits to using the keyboard shortcuts in Excel, but also some concerns that need to be kept in mind.

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