If you are a Microsoft Excel user, chances are you came across some keyboard shortcuts that you found useful. Or maybe you’re tired of being constantly tethered to your mouse and having to search the ribbon or toolbars to find the command you need. Either way, this article should help you understand the value and sometimes the detriment of the many Excel keyboard shortcuts that are built into the interface. By reading these tips, you will clearly understand the pros and cons of keeping your hands on the keyboard and away from the mouse when using Excel.

The pros and cons of keyboard shortcuts in Excel

Improve speed and efficiency

Obviously, the word shortcut implies that a certain amount of time is saved here. The main point of a keyboard shortcut is that you don’t have to take your hands off the keys to grasp the mouse; you just enter a keystroke or a combination of keys and it accomplishes the same thing as you would by clicking on the toolbar. Using these shortcuts can allow you to get the same amount of work done 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 general understanding of Excel’s capabilities.

Improve your familiarity with Excel in general

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

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Potential problems

Although saving time and movement can have a big effect on your productivity, not everything is warm and fuzzy. One problem is that by limiting your general range of motion for long periods of time, you run the risk of some physical problems. For one thing, without the opportunity 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 often to find commands, you can also end up with more eye strain. Finally, there is a real possibility of a carpal tunnel or other repetitive stress injury.

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

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