Basic tasks in Excel Online with a screen reader

Basic tasks, such as entering, totaling, and formatting your data, are easy to perform with a screen reader in Excel Online.

Notes: 

  • This topic assumes that JAWS users have the Virtual Ribbon Menu feature turned off.

  • If a shortcut requires pressing two or more keys at the same time, this topic separates the keys with a plus sign (+). If you have to press one key immediately after another, the keys are separated by a comma (,).

  • Excel Online is a web-based application, so the keyboard shortcuts and navigation may be different from those in Excel 2016. Learn more about Accessibility in Excel Online.

In this topic

Create a new workbook

You can create a new workbook from a template or from scratch.

Create a workbook when starting Excel Online

When you first start Excel Online, the left pane contains recently used workbooks and the right pane contains templates. Tab until you hear the name of a recently used workbook. To hear more workbook names, continue to press the Tab key. To enter the template pane, press the Tab key. As you tab in the template pane, the screen reader reads the names of the available templates, including New Blank Workbook.

To select a workbook or to select a template and create a new workbook based on it, press Spacebar.

Create a workbook when working in Excel Online

To create a new workbook, you must be in Edit mode. You can tell whether you’re in Edit mode based on the options in the File menu. They are only available in Edit mode. You can switch to Edit mode by selecting Edit in Excel in the tab bar.

  1. To open the Find dialog box, press Alt+Q. You hear “Tell me what you want to do.”

  2. Type New, and then press Enter. The results list appears.

  3. Press the Down Arrow key until you hear “New” (the first item in the list), and then press the Right Arrow key. A submenu appears.

    • To create a new blank workbook, press the Tab key. You hear “Blank Workbook button.” Press Control+Spacebar.

    • To create a new workbook from a template, continue to press the Tab key. You hear descriptions of the available templates. To select a template for your new workbook, press Control+Spacebar.

Enter your data

Tip: If a spreadsheet opens in Excel Online Read view, editing commands won’t work. To switch to Edit view, move the focus out of the worksheet by pressing F6 or Ctrl+F6. In Internet Explorer, press the Tab key until you hear “Toolbar” and then press Spacebar. Tab to the Edit Workbook list. Press Spacebar, press the Down Arrow key, and then, to select Edit in Excel Online, press Spacebar.

  1. To move between cells, press the arrow keys. The screen reader names the cells as you move between them. Cells are referenced by their row and column location on the worksheet, so cell A1 is in the first row of column A. If the cell has text in it, the screen reader reads the text.

  2. To enter or replace text in a cell, type the text, number, or formula.

  3. To move to the next cell, press Enter or the Tab key.

Use Sum to add your data

After you’ve entered numbers in your sheet, you might want to add them up.

  1. Move to the cell to the right of or just below the numbers that you want to add.

  2. Type =Sum( and then, to move to the first cell containing a number you want to include in the total, press the Left Arrow key or the Up Arrow key.

  3. Select the complete set of cells you want to total. To select cells, press Shift+arrow key until you reach the end of the set. (For more ways to select cells, see Keyboard shortcuts in Excel Online.)

  4. To perform the calculation, press Enter.

Excel Online adds up the numbers and places the result in the cell you selected.

Create a simple formula

Excel Online can do a lot of other math besides just adding numbers. Here are instructions for creating simple formulas to add, subtract, multiply, or divide your numbers.

  1. Move to the cell to the right of or just below the numbers that you want to calculate.

  2. Type an equal sign (=). (JAWS says, “Plus,” instead of “equals.”) That tells Excel Online that this cell will contain a formula.

  3. To create the formula, type a combination of numbers and calculation operators, like the plus sign (+) for addition, the minus sign (-) for subtraction, the asterisk (*) for multiplication, or the forward slash (/) for division. For example, enter =2+4, =4-2, =2*4, or =4/2.

  4. Press Enter.

Excel Online runs the calculation and shows the result in the cell.

Apply a number format

You can display different types of numbers in Excel Online by applying a format, like Currency, Percentage, or Date.

  1. Select the cell or cells you want to format. (To select a sequence of cells, press Shift+arrow.)

  2. To move the focus out of the worksheet and to the Home ribbon, press F6 or Ctrl+F6. In Internet Explorer, you hear the URL read. Then, press the Tab key until you hear “Home tab.” Press Spacebar.

  3. To open the Format Cells menu, press the Tab key until you hear “Number edit, Number format.” Press the Down Arrow key.

  4. To select a format, press the Down Arrow key. The screen reader reads the available formats, such as Currency or Date. To select one, press Spacebar.

Put your data in a table

A simple way to access the power of Excel Online is to put your data in a table so that you can quickly filter or sort your data.

  1. In Excel Online, select the cells that you want to include in the table. (To select a sequence of cells, press Shift+arrow.)

  2. To open the Create Table dialog box, press Ctrl+L.

  3. To move to the My table has headers check box, in the Create Table dialog box, press Shift+Tab.

  4. To select or clear the check box (based on whether you want the top row to be used as the table header), press Spacebar.

    Important: Table headers are required to make a table accessible for screen readers. Screen readers use header information to understand how to locate table cells.

  5. Press the Tab key until you get to the OK button, and then press Enter.

Sort and filter your table

Note: This procedure works with the screen reader Narrator, but does not currently work with the JAWS screen reader.

  1. To open the filter drop-down menu, press Alt+Down Arrow. To move through the fields and to apply a sort or filter press the Down Arrow key.

    • To sort data, move until you hear Sort Ascending or Sort Descending, and then press Enter.

    • To apply a simple filter, press the Down Arrow key until you hear “Filter” and then press Enter. The Filter dialog box appears. To select items to filter on, press Down Arrow and then, to select an item, press Spacebar.

    • To apply a complex filter, press the Down Arrow key until you hear “Text filters” and then press Enter. The menu of filters appears. To hear the filter names, press the Down Arrow key. Then, to select a filter, press Enter. Fill in the dialog box that appears, tab to the OK button, and then press Enter.

Excel Online applies your sort or filter.

Show calculations of your numbers

Note: This procedure works with the screen reader Narrator, but does not currently work with the JAWS screen reader.

  1. In the cell where you want the total to appear, type an equal sign (=).

  2. Begin typing the formula or function you want to use. The focus moves to the formula bar.

    • To use a function, type the first letter of that function, such as “S” for SUM or “A” for AVERAGE. A menu of functions opens, and you hear the name of the first function. To hear the names of other functions, press the Down Arrow key. To select a function, press Tab.

    Excel Online opens a text field and automatically includes the expected range of cells (the cells that you are most likely trying to total).

  3. To complete the function, type any cell ranges or other numbers required, and then press Enter.

The focus returns to the sheet and the cell containing the function you just added.

Save your work

Excel Online automatically saves your work, but you can change the location or file name and you can download a copy of the file.

  1. To move the focus out of the worksheet and to the File ribbon, press F6 or Ctrl+F6. In Internet Explorer, you hear the URL read. Press the Tab key until you hear “File tab,” and then press Spacebar. The File menu opens.

  2. Press the Down Arrow key until you hear “Save As tab selected,” and then press the Right Arrow key. The focus is in the Save As menu.

  3. Press the Tab key until you hear the Save option you want, and then press Enter:

    • The Save a copy online option lets you save the file in a different location and, if you’d like, with a different name. A dialog box appears. To move through the dialog box and fill in the fields, use the Tab key and press Shift+Tab. Then, tab to the Save button and press Enter.

    • The Rename this workbook option lets you rename the file while saving to the same location. When you select this option, a dialog box appears. To move through the dialog box and fill in the fields, use the Tab key and press Shift+Tab. Then, tab to the Save button and press Enter.

    • The Download a copy option lets you save a copy of the file on your local machine. The file is downloaded to the Download folder on your machine, and the Notification bar opens in your browser. To move to the Notification bar, press F6, and then, to move between the buttons (Open, Save, Cancel, or Close), press the Tab key or Shift+Tab. To select a button, press Enter.

Print your work

  1. To move the focus out of the worksheet and to the File ribbon, press F6 or Ctrl+F6. In Internet Explorer, you hear the URL read. Press the Tab key until you hear “File tab,” and then press Spacebar. The File menu opens.

  2. Press the Down Arrow key until you hear “Print tab selected,” and then press the Right Arrow key. You hear “Print, Show a print-friendly view,” and the focus is on the Print button.

  3. Press Enter. The Print Options dialog box opens, and the focus is on the Print button in the dialog box.

  4. By default, Excel Online prints the entire sheet. If you have selected a portion of the sheet to print, to move to the print options, press Shift+Tab, and then, to select Current selection, press the Up Arrow key. Tab to the Print button, and then press Enter.

  5. A new window opens for printing. Tab until you hear “Print button,” and then press Enter. The standard Print dialog box opens.

  6. To finish printing, use the dialog box to change any necessary settings, and then tab to the Print button and press Enter.

Technical support for customers with disabilities

Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or have questions related to accessibility, please contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk for technical assistance. The Disability Answer Desk support team is trained in using many popular assistive technologies and can offer assistance in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. Please go to the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk site to find out the contact details for your region.

If you are a government, commercial, or enterprise user, please contact the enterprise Disability Answer Desk.

Share Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Email Email

Was this information helpful?

Great! Any other feedback?

How can we improve it?

Thank you for your feedback!

×