Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Controlling Entry Order on Unprotected Cells.

Controlling Entry Order on Unprotected Cells

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 18, 2020)

Rob has a number of worksheets that are used to score assessments. The first worksheet has cells for name, date, etc., then several columns to enter the multiple-choice responses. The sheet is protected, so only input cells can be changed. When the user finishes the last cell in a column, the focus will jump to the next unprotected cell, which may be the first cell in the next column, or it might be the "date" cell. Rob wonders how he can control the focus so that when the value is entered into the last (bottom) cell in a column, it will then move to a cell that he specifies.

There is no built-in way to do this in Excel, as the program determines its own order of choosing which cell is next selected. You can modify which cell is selected next when you press Enter in a worksheet, but you cannot modify what happens when you press Tab in a protected worksheet. By default, cells are selected left to right and then top to bottom in the worksheet.

If you want to modify what happens when the Tab key is pressed, then you'll need to resort to using a macro to control the selection order. The following macro is an example; it moves to cell D5 after entering something into cell C10 and to E5 after entering something in cell D10:

Private Sub Worksheet_Change(ByVal Target As Range)
    If Target.Address = "$C$10" Then Range("D5").Select
    If Target.Address = "$D$10" Then Range("E5").Select
End Sub

The problem with using a VBA solution like this is that it can make your spreadsheet—particularly if it is a large one—a bit more sluggish. By their nature, macros also mean that the Undo feature is disabled.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10314) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Controlling Entry Order on Unprotected Cells.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Controlling How Body Text is Displayed

When working in Outline view, you can control how Word displays the body text under each heading. You can specify that ...

Discover More

Altering the Displayed Format of Numbers to the Nearest 100

Want information in a worksheet to be formatted and displayed as rounded to a power of ten? You may be out of luck, ...

Discover More

Can't Access the Registry

Many Windows applications rely on information stored in the Registry. If that information cannot be accessed, the ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Locking Worksheet Names

Want to stop other people from changing the names of your worksheets? You can provide the desired safeguard by using the ...

Discover More

Forcing a Worksheet to be Protected Again

Excel allows you to protect your worksheets so they can only be changed as you want to have happen. If you unprotect a ...

Discover More

Using a Protected Worksheet

If you have a worksheet protected, it may not be immediately evident that it really is protected. This tip explains some ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is one more than 7?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.