For this lesson you need to open the sample file First Quarter Sales and Profit from your Sample Files folder.

Excel beginners tend to reach for the mouse far too often. One of the keys to productivity with Excel is to avoid using the mouse when entering data. In this lesson we'll quickly populate a worksheet without using the mouse at all.

Cells can contain values or text. Values can be numbers, dates or formulas. You'll be learning more about formulas later in this session.

Excel usually does a great job of recognizing when there are values in a cell and when there's text. The giveaway is that text is always, by default, left-aligned in the cell and values are right-aligned.

Look at the numbers on this worksheet. Notice how they're all right-aligned. This lets you know that Excel has correctly recognized them as values and will happily perform mathematical operations using them.

Let's now type a value into a cell. I'll click in cell B5 to make it the active cell and then type the value 42000.

Notice that the cursor is still flashing in the cell. At this stage the value has not been saved into the cell. If you change your mind, you can still undo the value by pressing the Escape key at the top left of your keyboard. I'll press the Escape key now.

I'll enter the value again now 42000, and this time I'll cancel the entry in a slightly different way using the Cancel button to the left of the Formula Bar. So I'll click the Cancel button now and the value vanishes.

But I'll enter the value yet again and this time I'll save the value into the cell by pressing the Enter key. I'll press the Enter key now.

And notice that when I pressed the Enter key two things happened. First of all, the value was saved into the cell. And secondly the active cell moved to the cell below cell B5.

When you enter data into a column there's no need to use the mouse, just press the Enter key after each entry and the active cell moves to the cell beneath.

Try this now with the following January Sales Data. I'll type 18000 for London sales and press the Enter key. For Paris I'll type 35000 and press the Enter key. And for Munich I'll type 12000 and press the Enter key.

Sometimes you want to enter data into a row rather than a column and it would also be nice to do that without using the mouse. I'm going to use the arrow keys on the keyboard now, to navigate to cell C5. So I'll press the right-arrow key once and the up-arrow key one, two, three, four times.

I'll enter the value 39,000 for Los Angeles February sales but I now want to enter Los Angeles March sales. If I press the Enter key I'll move down to cell C6, but I want to move to the right to cell D5. So instead of pressing the Enter key I'll press the Tab key on the keyboard.

I'm pressing the Tab key now.

For Los Angeles March sales I'll enter 43,000.

I'm now going to press the Enter key and you might expect that the active cell would move downwards to cell D6, the cell below, but actually something else will happen.

I'll press the Enter key now and Excel has cleverly guessed that, since I'm entering a block of data, I might want to move to cell C6 instead. And Excel guessed correctly.

I'm now going to complete all of the data in this block without using the mouse. So for London February sales I'll enter 20,000 then press the Tab key, then 22,000 and press the Enter key, then 35,000 and press the Tab key, then 31,000 and press the Enter key, then 15,000 and the Tab key, and finally 13,000 and the Enter key.

Now let's talk about changing the value in a cell. If I want to edit the text: Jan in cell B3 so that it reads: January I can edit it like this. I'm going to place the mouse cursor in the white space to the right of Jan and double click. I can then type U-A-R-Y to edit the text to read January, and now I'll press the Enter key.

Let's now edit the text back to Jan again using a different technique. I'll use an up-arrow key on the keyboard to move to cell B3. And notice that as well as January appearing in cell B3 it also appears on the Formula Bar. So I'll click to the right of the "y" on the Formula Bar, then press the backspace key 1, 2, 3, 4 times and then press the Enter key. And I've edited the text again back to Jan.

There's many ways of entering numbers in Excel. I can enter negative numbers by typing in a minus sign, either on one of the keys at the top of the keyboard or on the numeric keypad at the right hand side of the keyboard. I'll press minus now and 123.56 and the number's accepted. I can tell it's been accepted as a number because it's aligned on the right hand side of cell H4.

I can also enter negative numbers using brackets. Open brackets, 123.56, and close brackets, and this has exactly the same effect.

Excel's also happy to accept a leading currency symbol. The currency symbol it will accept depends upon how you defined the regional options in your operating system. For example, this particular computer has the regional options set to the United Kingdom, so it will happily accept a £ leading currency sign before a number. And I can see that that's been accepted as a number once again, because the number is aligned to the right of the cell.

But on this particular machine if I tried entering a $ prefix and the same number you'll see it's not been accepted as a number. Excel regards it as text because, on this machine, it doesn't recognize the dollar prefix. If I was using this same machine in the USA then it would accept the $ prefix and reject the £ prefix. Later, in Lesson 4-3, you'll learn how to set any currency prefix whatever your locale.

Now let's look at commas. Excel will happily accept comma delimiters like this: 12,456,789.99. This makes it easier to read large numbers.

Excel's also happy to accept fractions. For example, six and a quarter can be entered as: 6 1/4. If I wanted to simply enter a quarter without the six, I'd have to first type a 0 then a space then 1/4. The reason for this is that 1/4 on its own would be interpreted by Excel as a date. I'll now press the Enter key and the 0 disappears.

I'll press an up-arrow key now, just to move the active cell back to cell H10. And if you look at the Formula Bar, you'll see that Excel is storing this number internally as 0.25 because, behind the scenes, Excel is still working in decimals.

All that remains now is to save your work. And I'm going to save to the folder above my Sample Files folder so that I don't overwrite my sample files. And I'll Save As: First Quarter Sales and Profit 2.

I click the Save button, and you've now completed Lesson 2-1: Enter Text and Numbers Into a Worksheet.