"How To Excel" Mini-Tutorials
by TheExcelAddict.com
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Tabbing Through Input Cells

Do you create worksheets for other users to input information?

Wouldn't it be cool if you could set up a worksheet so that when they enter information in one input cell they could quickly jump to the next input cell?

You can do this fairly easily with Excel.

Basically what you do is unlock all of the input cells and protect the sheet. Then, instead of pressing Enter after you input data, you press the Tab key and you will automatically jump to the next input cell. By default, all cells in a worksheet are locked. Locked cells prevent users from inputting data or making changes to them, however, unless the worksheet is protected locking or unlocking cells has no effect.

Here's how to do it ... it's really pretty straight forward.

  1. First, select all of the cells you want the user to input data into by holding down the CTRL key while selecting each cell.
  2. Since all worksheet cells in Excel are locked by default, you need to unlock just the input cells. With the input cells still selected choose Format, Cells, click the Protection tab, uncheck the Locked option and click OK.
  3. Now you need to protect the sheet by selecting Tools, Protection, Protect Sheet, OK.

One thing to keep in mind when designing your input sheet is that, as the user tabs through the (unprotected) input cells, the active cell moves across the row to the next unlocked cell and then down to the next row containing unlocked cells.

Locking cells doesn't prevent a user from selecting them, only making changes to them. However if you have Excel 2002, you can prevent the user from selecting locked cells by removing the check mark from 'Select locked cells' on the Protection tab in Step 2 above.

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Copyright 2003 All Rights Reserved by Francis Hayes (The Excel Addict)

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