Jump to the Next Data Entry Cell in Excel

If you’re filling in a form, the data entry cells might be scattered throughout the worksheet. You’d like a quick and easy way to move through the cells, in a specific order. To do this, you can create a named range.

Select the Data Entry Cells

You’ll select the data entry cells, in the order you want to use them. In this report card, the cells are numbered, to show the data entry order.


  1. First, select the second cell in which you want to enter data. In this example, we’ll select cell C4, where the student’s grade level will be entered.
  2. Then, hold the Ctrl key and select the next cell, then the next, until the remaining cells, 3 to 7, are selected.
  3. Finally, select the first cell in the sequence – cell C3 in this example.

Because cell C3 was selected last, it becomes the active cell in the range. Later, when we use this range, we’ll automatically start in cell C3.

Note: In Excel 2003 and earlier versions, you’re limited to 255 characters in the named range formula. Depending on the length of the sheet name, you’ll probably be able to include 10-15 cells in the named range.

Name the Range

Next, you’ll create a name for the selected cells.

  1. Click in the Name box
  2. Type a one-word name for this group of cells – Grades in this example.
    • ReportCard02
  3. Press the Enter key to save this name.

Use the Named Range for Data Entry

Now, when you want to enter information into these cells, you can select the named range, and tab through the cells.

  1. At the right of the Name box, click the drop-down arrow.
  2. Click on the name that you created – Grades
    • ReportCard03
  3. With the named range selected, type in the active cell.
  4. Press the Tab key, or the Enter key, to move to the next cell.
  5. When all the cells are completed, click a cell outside the named range, to deselect the range.

Watch the Video

To see these steps performed in Excel 2007, you can watch the following short video tutorial.


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26 Responses

  1. Hi Debra,

    This may sound surprising, but the 255 character limit does not apply here, provided you use the name box to define the name after selecting the data entry cells.
    The actual limit is a certain amount of areas (I forgot how many).

    The only way to EDIT that name afterwards however is by using Name Manager created by Charles Williams and myself, download at

  2. teylyn says:

    @ JKP
    Name manager is not the only way to edit the name. In XL 2003 I just used Insert – Name – Define to manually add another cell to the range. You can edit the content of the “Refers to:” box and click “Add” to make changes. If you hit F2 while in the “Refers to:” box, you can use the arrow keys to navigate and enter new cell addresses.

  3. Clayton Lock - Excel Video Man says:

    Well I never – after all the years I have been using Excel I have never used this technique – Many thanks for sharing it with us.

    Lots of my customers will find this very useful and I will be passing it on with a reference to your excellent blog.



  4. Thanks Clayton — glad you found the tip useful!

  5. topsris says:

    Thanks your tip for set Name Range for Data Entry.

  6. Jim Wren says:

    Excel facinates me (not tht good at it) I look forward to new stuff and this is definitely new to me — THANKS

  7. Thanks Jim — there’s always cool new stuff in Excel, no matter how long you’ve used it.

  8. Contextures Blog » Quickly Clear Data Entry Cells in Excel says:

    […] can also select the range, and use it to jump to specific cells when entering data, as in the Grades range, in the report card shown […]

  9. Jasmine says:

    This is very useful, thank you. How can I use this technique to have the data entered appear on a spreadsheet as a list od student report cards?

  10. Mike says:


    so i want to go on through the whole excel sheet, so if i have 4 students, i just want to pres enter and the excel jumps to the next page, is this possible plz help tnx.

  11. mike says:


    i got more then 1 student and i made tabs in my worksheet, but i don’t want to click for evry student to go to the next tab, is there a way to go to the next tab with. many thanks

  12. mike says:

    hey Debra thanks for the reply

    yes i can do so but isn’t it possible then it goes by it self i got for exempel 400 student and would prefere just typ blindely on my key board the marks of the student and it goes on and on. is there a solution please help tnx

  13. robert says:

    i made a mistake in the range and named/saved it how can i delete it from the selection and that it will disapear


  14. peter says:

    i got 320 data cell’s, is there not an other way to select more then 24 a 27 cells?

  15. jayashree says:


    Could somebody help me on the requiremnet below?

    Cell 1 – Jan 2012
    Cell 2 – Feb 2012
    Cell 3 – Mar 2012
    How do i get ‘Feb 2012’, ‘Mar 2012’ in cell 2 and 3 respectively automatically when cell 1 is filled with ‘Jan 2012’?

  16. Keith says:


    I used the “Jump to the Next Data Entry Cell” in Excel 2007

    Great tip, only I still have a problem.

    I need to protect the sheet. When I protect the sheet, the jump to does not work. Is there a way around this ?

    Thank you,

    • Keith, the technique should work when the sheet is protected, as long as those cells are unlocked. That setting is on the Ribbon’s Home tab, in the Cells group. Click Format, then click the Lock command, to toggle the setting.

  17. Asif says:

    Respected sir!
    i read your tip of name range. it is a good method. but i want to be, nobody enter data other than specific cell (cell that used in name range). or new computer user not select every time cell name range from cell no tool bar.


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