MS-Excel / Excel 2003

Advantage of the Numeric Keypad

Seeing that pressing the Enter key automatically advances the cell pointer to a new cell in the next row down - conveniently getting you in place for your next entry - I don't see that you have any excuse for not entering ranges of numerical entries from your keyboard's numeric keypad. (After all, your keypad does have an Enter key nearby even if it's embedded in the standard keyboard, as is the case on almost all laptops.) When it comes to entering spreadsheet numbers with any speed, using the number keys along the top row of the standard QWERTY keyboard just doesn't cut it.

Unfortunately, the numeric keypad on your computer is not really the equivalent of the old adding machine's 10-key number pad. On the computer keyboard, the keypad mostly does double-duty with other keys (cursor keys when the pad stands apart from the standard keyboard, and other letter and punctuation keys when it's embedded within the keyboard itself).

As a result of this double functioning, you have to engage the numeric keypad in Excel by pressing the Num Lock key before you can use the pad to enter your spreadsheet numbers. This locks in the number function and simultaneously locks out the secondary cursor or letter-key function. (Excel lets you know when the number function is engaged by displaying the NUM indicator on the status bar.)

Always look for the NUM indicator on the status bar before using the numeric keypad. That way, you save yourself from a lot of wasted time and unnecessary aggravation that comes from entering errant letters and punctuation in it or from having the cell pointer move off the cell.

If you're using a laptop computer, you may have to do more than just engage Num Lock to produce numbers from your embedded numeric keypad. Some laptops also make you hold down a special Fn (Function) key to activate the numeric pad.

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