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

Starting Out Formulas

When you enter a formula from the keyboard, Excel only knows it is a formula if you start it with an equal sign. You can ...

Discover More

Creating and Using Standardized Tables

If you have a common table layout that you want to use again and again, you'd benefit by having an easy way to save that ...

Discover More

References to Hyperlinks aren't Hyperlinks

Make a reference to a hyperlink in a formula, and you may be surprised that the reference doesn't return an active ...

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)

Enabling Editing Erases Worksheet

If you receive a protected worksheet that you want to edit, how do you proceed if you try to unprotect the worksheet and ...

Discover More

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

Password Protecting Specific Columns in a Worksheet

When you are developing a worksheet for others to use, you might want to protect some of the information in that ...

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 minus 0?

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.