Use a screen reader to do basic tasks in Excel 2016

Excel is a powerful tool for tracking and analyzing data, and you can do these basic tasks and more in Excel with the assistance of your screen reader. Through its grid of columns and rows that make up the cells, which contain numbers, text, or formulas, you can do anything from simple calculations to recording and scrutinizing vast amounts of data. You can sort or filter your data, put it into tables, and build attractive charts that show what your data means.

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

In this topic

Create a new workbook

Excel files are called workbooks. Each workbook contains sheets, typically called spreadsheets or worksheets. You can add as many sheets as you want to a workbook, or you can create new workbooks to keep your data separate.

  1. In Excel, to start creating a new workbook, press Alt+F, N.

  2. To open a blank workbook, press L.

Enter your data

As you enter data in the sheet, you work with rows, columns, and cells. Cells are referenced by their location in the row and column on the sheet, so cell A1 is in the first row of column A. On a new sheet, cell A1 is the default selection.

  1. To select an empty cell where you want to start entering your data, press the arrow keys. As you move to cells in the workbook, in JAWS, you hear the cell reference and the contents of the cell. When you select an empty cell, you hear, for example, “Blank, G4.” In Narrator, you hear the cell reference but not the contents of the cell.

  2. In the cell, type text or a number.

  3. To enter the contents in the cell and move to the next cell in the column, press Enter. To move to the next cell in the row, press the Tab key. You can also use the arrow keys.

Use AutoSum to add your data

You can use the AutoSum function to quickly add numbers you’ve entered in your sheet.

  1. Select the cell where you want to put the total. This is typically to the right of or below the numbers you’re adding.

  2. To enter the AutoSum function in the cell, press Alt+H, U, and then S.

    Tip: You can change which cells are selected for the AutoSum function. To select the range of cells you want to add, hold down the Shift key and press the arrow keys.

  3. When you’ve confirmed that the AutoSum function is creating a formula for the cells you want, press Enter. AutoSum adds the numbers in the selected cells, and the total goes in your selected cell.

  4. To hear the result of AutoSum calculation, move back to the cell containing the AutoSum function. You hear the number, the fact that this is a result of a formula, and the cell reference, for example, “538, Has formula, G6.”

Create a simple formula

You can enter simple formulas to add, subtract, multiply, or divide the numbers in your sheet. You create a formula by combining cell references (like B4 or D6) that contain the numbers you want to calculate with the math operator. The operators are the plus sign (+) for addition, the minus sign (-) for subtraction, the asterisk (*) for multiplication, and the forward slash (/) for division.

  1. Select the cell where you want to put the result of the formula. This is typically to the right of or below the numbers you’re calculating.

  2. Type the equal sign (=). An Excel formula always starts with the equal sign.

  3. To create your formula, type a combination of cell references (like B4 or D6) and math operators. For example, =B4+B5, =B4-B5, =B4*B5, or =B4/B5.

    Tip: To do quick calculations, Instead of cell references, you can enter numbers in your formula, for example, =20+10, =20-10, =20*10, or =20/10.

  4. Press Enter. The numbers are calculated and the result goes in your selected cell.

    Tip: If you want the cursor to stay in the active cell, press Ctrl+Enter.

Apply a number format

To distinguish between different types of numbers, add a number format, like currency, percentage, or date.

  1. Select the cells that contain the numbers you want to format.

  2. To open the number format combo box, press Alt+H, N.

  3. To browse through the available number formats, press the Down Arrow key or the Up Arrow key.

    Tip: If the number format you want is not in this list, like Special or Custom, to exit the list of number formats, press Esc. To open the Number tab in the Format Cells dialog box, press Alt+H, O, and then E. To browse through the list of available number formats, press the Tab key and then press the Down Arrow key or the Up Arrow key.

  4. To apply a selected number format to the selected cells, press Enter.

Filter or sort data in a table

When you create a table from your data in a sheet, you can analyze the data in a variety of ways, including quickly filtering or sorting.

  1. 1. To select the group of data that you want to analyze as a table, select the first cell. Then, to move to the last cell of data (typically the opposite corner of the group of cells), hold down the Shift key and press the arrow keys. After selecting the group of cells, you hear the cell reference and contents of the first cell in the range and then the cell reference and contents of the last cell in the range. (In Narrator, you hear the cell reference and contents of the first cell in the range.)

  2. To open the Quick Analysis tool, press Ctrl+Q.

  3. To move to the Tables tab, press T.

  4. To select Table grid, press the Tab key and then press Enter. Your selected data is formatted as a table. Column headings are added, and the rows are formatted in alternating colors.

  5. Filter the table by the contents of a column.

    1. Move to the heading of the column that contains the data you want to filter by.

    2. Select the arrow in the column heading.

    3. Press the Tab key until you hear “Select All, Checked.”

    4. To clear this check box, press Spacebar.

    5. To browse through the filter choices, press the Down Arrow key, and to select the check boxes containing the data you want to filter by, press Spacebar. Press Enter.

    6. To remove the filter and show all data again, repeat steps a–c. To select the Select All check box, press Spacebar. Press Enter.

  6. Sort the table.

    1. Move to the heading of the column you want to sort the table by.

    2. Select the arrow in the column heading.

    3. To select Sort Smallest to Largest (for numbers) or Sort A to Z (for text), press S. To select Sort Largest to Smallest or Sort Z to A, press O.

Calculate numbers in a table

With the Quick Analysis tools, you can quickly calculate your numbers. Whether it’s a sum, average, or count, Excel shows the calculation results below or next to your numbers throughout the table.

  1. To select the group of data you want to calculate as a table, select the first cell. Then, to move to the last cell of data (typically the opposite corner of the group of cells), hold down the Shift key and press the arrow keys.

  2. To open the Quick Analysis tool, press Ctrl+Q.

  3. To move to the Totals tab, press O and then press the Tab key.

  4. To browse through the calculation options, which include Sum, Average, Count, % Total, and Running, for either horizontal data or vertical data, press the Right Arrow key.

  5. Select a calculation option, and press Enter. The selected group of data is calculated as specified.

  6. To hear the results, select the cells containing the formulas one by one. You hear the formula result, the fact that the cell contains a formula, and the cell reference.

Format or highlight your data as a table

Conditional formatting or sparklines can highlight your most important data or show data trends. You can use the Quick Analysis tool to quickly apply these highlights.

  1. To select the group of data you want to highlight with conditional formatting or sparklines, select the first cell. Then, to move to the last cell of data (typically the opposite corner of the group of cells), hold down the Shift key and press the arrow keys.

  2. To open the Quick Analysis tool, press Ctrl+Q.

  3. To move to the Formatting tab, press F. To move to the Sparklines menu, press S. To move to the tab options, press the Tab key.

  4. To browse through the formatting or sparklines options, press the Right Arrow key or the Left Arrow key. Formatting options for numbers include Data Bars, Color, Icon Set, and more. Formatting options for text include Text Contains, Duplicate Values, Unique Values, Equal To, and Clear Format. Sparklines options include Line, Column, and Win/Loss and are available only when numbers are selected.

  5. Select a formatting or sparklines option, and press Enter. Your selected group of data is formatted as specified.

Note: Learn more about how to Analyze trends in data using sparklines.

Show your data in a chart

The Quick Analysis tool recommends a specific chart and quickly creates a visual presentation of your data.

  1. To select the group of numbers and labels you want to represent as a chart, select the first cell. Then, to move to the last cell of data (typically the opposite corner of the group of cells), hold down the Shift key and press the arrow keys.

  2. To open the Quick Analysis tool, press Ctrl+Q.

  3. To move to the Charts tab, press C, and then press the Tab key.

  4. To browse through the chart options, press the Right Arrow key or the Left Arrow key.

  5. Select the chart type you want and press Enter. The chart representing your selected group is added to the worksheet as an embedded object.

Note: Learn about other ways to Create a chart in Excel 2016 for Windows.

Save your work

  1. 1. Press Ctrl+S. If this is the first time you’re saving this workbook, in the just-opened Save As Backstage view, select its storage location and give it a name.

  2. To move to the Save As location choices, press the Tab key.

  3. To select the storage location for the workbook, like OneDrive or This PC, press the Down Arrow key or the Up Arrow key. Or, to open the Save As dialog box, move to Browse and press Enter.

  4. To browse to a folder within your selected storage location, press the Tab key. To move to a folder higher in the hierarchy, select Up One Level. To move to the list of folders, repeatedly press the Tab key. To move through the list, press the Tab key or arrow keys. To select a folder, press Enter.

  5. Tab to the Enter file name here box, and type a name for your workbook.

  6. Tab to the Save button, and press Enter.

Print your work

  1. To open the Print Backstage view, press Ctrl+P.

  2. Tab through the print settings, including Print Properties, Print One Sided, Portrait Orientation, Normal Margins, and Page Setup. To change a selected setting, press Enter. To select a different setting, press the Down Arrow key or Up Arrow key and then press Enter.

  3. When the print settings are the way you want, to select Print, press Shift+Tab until you hear “Print.” Press Enter. Your printer prints the workbook.

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