Change the Cursor Movement Direction in Excel

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By default, Excel automatically moves the active cell highlight, or cell cursor down to the next cell when the Enter key on the keyboard is pressed. This default direction for moving the cursor was selected because data is most often entered in columns one cell after the other so the cursor moving down when the Enter key is pressed facilitates data entry.

Changing the Direction of the Cursor

This default behavior can be changed so that cursor moves to the right, the left, or up instead of down. It is also possible to have the cursor not move at all, but remain on the current cell after the Enter key is pressed. Changing the cursor direction is done using the Advanced options in the Excel Options dialog box. Get instructions on how to make changes below.

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Change the Cursor Movement Direction in Excel

Change the Direction of the Cursor Moves in Excel
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To change the direction the cursor moves:

  1. Click on the File tab of the ribbon to open the file menu
  2. Click on Options in the menu to open the Excel Options dialog box
  3. Click on Advanced in the left-hand pane of the dialog box
  4. Under After pressing Enter, move selection in the right-hand pane, click on the down arrow next to Direction to select a direction the cursor will move when the Enter key is pressed.
  5. To have the cell cursor remain on the same cell, remove the check mark from the box next to After pressing Enter, move selection
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Using the Tab and Enter Keys When Entering Data

If periodically you enter data across rows rather than down in columns, you can use the Tab key to move left to right across a worksheet rather than changing the default direction using the instructions listed above.

After entering the first cell of data:

  1. Press the Tab key to move one cell to the right in the same row
  2. Continue entering data and using the Tab key to move to the next cell to the right until the end of the row of data is reached
  3. Press the Enter key to return to the first column to start the next row of data