Create a custom keyboard shortcut to quickly insert a border in Excel


In today's fast-paced business world, efficiency is key. When working with Excel, being able to navigate and perform tasks quickly can save you a significant amount of time. That's where keyboard shortcuts come in. These nifty combinations of keys allow you to execute commands with just a few keystrokes, boosting productivity and streamlining your workflow. In this blog post, we'll focus on a specific problem many Excel users face - the need to insert a border quickly and easily. We'll show you how to create a custom keyboard shortcut that will allow you to insert a border in Excel at the press of a few keys.

Key Takeaways

  • Keyboard shortcuts in Excel increase efficiency and save time
  • Creating a custom shortcut for inserting a border can streamline workflow
  • Understanding Excel's default border shortcut and its limitations is important
  • Choosing a custom shortcut combination that is easy to remember and doesn't conflict with existing shortcuts is crucial
  • Testing the custom shortcut and troubleshooting common issues are essential steps for successful implementation

Understanding Excel's default border shortcut

Excel provides users with a default keyboard shortcut that allows them to quickly insert a border in their spreadsheets. This feature is particularly useful for adding visual distinction to cells or ranges, making the data more organized and easier to comprehend. By understanding the default border shortcut, users can take advantage of this functionality and streamline their workflow.

Explain the default keyboard shortcut for inserting a border in Excel

By default, Excel provides a pre-defined keyboard shortcut for inserting a border. To use this shortcut, follow these steps:

  • Open your Excel spreadsheet and select the cell or range where you want to insert a border.
  • Press and hold the Ctrl key on your keyboard.
  • While holding Ctrl, press the Shift key.
  • While still holding both keys, press the + key. (The + key is typically located at the top of your keyboard, near the backspace key.)
  • Release all the keys.

Following these steps will insert a default border around the selected cell or range in Excel.

Discuss the limitations of the default shortcut and why a custom shortcut may be necessary

While the default shortcut for inserting a border in Excel is handy, it may have some limitations depending on the user's preferences or specific requirements. These limitations can make a custom shortcut necessary. Some reasons why a custom shortcut may be preferred include:

  • Complexity: The default shortcut requires the user to simultaneously press multiple keys, which can be cumbersome, especially for frequent border insertions.
  • Memory: Remembering the specific combination of keys for the default shortcut can be challenging, especially for users who work with various keyboard shortcuts in Excel.
  • Efficiency: Custom shortcuts can be tailored to the user's workflow, allowing for quicker border insertions without the need for complex key combinations.
  • User preferences: Some individuals may have specific preferences for certain keyboard shortcuts based on their familiarity with other software or personal comfort.

Given these limitations, creating a custom keyboard shortcut for quickly inserting borders in Excel can enhance productivity and user experience. By leveraging a custom shortcut, users can work more efficiently and focus on their data rather than the mechanics of accessing the border functionality.

Choosing a custom shortcut combination

Creating a custom keyboard shortcut in Excel can greatly streamline your workflow by allowing you to quickly insert borders without the need for multiple clicks or navigating through menus. In this chapter, we will explore the process of selecting a custom shortcut combination in Excel and provide tips on choosing a combination that is easy to remember and does not conflict with existing shortcuts.

Process of selecting a custom shortcut combination

When it comes to selecting a custom shortcut combination in Excel, you have the flexibility to choose any keys on your keyboard that are not already assigned to existing Excel commands. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to create your own custom shortcut:

  • Step 1: Open Excel and click on the 'File' tab in the top-left corner of the window.
  • Step 2: From the dropdown menu, select 'Options' to open the Excel Options dialog box.
  • Step 3: In the Excel Options dialog box, click on 'Customize Ribbon' in the left-hand sidebar.
  • Step 4: Under the 'Customize the Ribbon' section, click on the 'Keyboard Shortcuts: Customize' button.
  • Step 5: In the 'Customize Keyboard' dialog box, ensure that 'Home Tab' is selected in the 'Categories' list.
  • Step 6: Scroll down the 'Commands:' list and select 'Borders'.
  • Step 7: Click on the 'Press new shortcut key' field and press the combination of keys you want to assign as the shortcut for inserting borders.
  • Step 8: Verify that the 'Current Keys' box does not display any conflicts with existing shortcuts. If a conflict arises, you may need to choose a different combination of keys.
  • Step 9: Once you have selected a suitable combination, click on the 'Assign' button to assign the shortcut to the 'Borders' command.
  • Step 10: Click on the 'Close' button to close the 'Customize Keyboard' dialog box.
  • Step 11: Finally, click on the 'OK' button in the Excel Options dialog box to save your custom shortcut.

Tips for choosing a suitable shortcut combination

When choosing a custom shortcut combination for inserting borders in Excel, it is essential to consider a few factors to ensure a seamless and efficient experience. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • 1. Memorability: Select a combination of keys that is easy to remember and associate with the action of inserting borders. This will help you quickly recall the shortcut and save time in the long run.
  • 2. Ergonomics: Choose a combination that is comfortable for your hand positioning and does not strain your fingers. Avoid awkward stretches or positions that may cause discomfort or fatigue.
  • 3. Compatibility: Ensure that your chosen combination does not conflict with existing shortcuts in Excel. Conflicting shortcuts may cause unexpected behavior or prevent your custom shortcut from functioning correctly.
  • 4. Consistency: If you frequently use other programs that allow custom shortcuts, try to maintain consistency across applications by using similar combinations for similar actions.
  • 5. Consider modifiers: Incorporating modifier keys like Ctrl, Alt, or Shift can significantly expand the available shortcut combinations. Experiment with different modifiers to find a combination that suits your preferences.

By following these tips and carefully selecting a custom shortcut combination, you can efficiently insert borders in Excel with just a few keystrokes, enhancing your productivity and workflow.

Assigning the custom shortcut to an Excel command

Walk through the steps of assigning the custom shortcut to the "Borders" command in Excel

Assigning a custom shortcut to an Excel command allows you to quickly access frequently used functions and increase your productivity. Follow the steps below to assign a custom shortcut specifically for inserting a border in Excel:

  1. Step 1: Open the "Customize Ribbon" settings
  2. Open Excel and navigate to the "File" tab in the top-left corner, then click on "Options." In the Excel Options dialog box, select "Customize Ribbon" from the left-hand side menu.

  3. Step 2: Access the "Keyboard Shortcuts" options
  4. In the Excel Options dialog box, click on the "Customize" button next to "Keyboard shortcuts" near the bottom-right corner.

    (Screenshot 1: Excel Options dialog box)

  5. Step 3: Select the desired category and command
  6. In the "Customize Keyboard" dialog box, under the "Categories" section on the left, select "All Commands." This will display a list of all available Excel commands in the "Commands" section on the right.

    (Screenshot 2: Customize Keyboard dialog box)

  7. Step 4: Find and select the "Borders" command
  8. In the "Commands" section, scroll down or use the search box to find and select the "Borders" command.

    (Screenshot 3: Borders command selected)

  9. Step 5: Assign a custom shortcut key
  10. Click inside the "Press new shortcut key" field and press the desired key combination you want to use as a shortcut for inserting borders. Ensure that the key combination is not already assigned to another command, as Excel will display any conflicting commands in the "Currently assigned to" section.

  11. Step 6: Save and test the custom shortcut
  12. Once you have assigned the desired shortcut key, click on the "Assign" button and then "Close" to save your changes. You can now test the custom shortcut by selecting a range of cells and pressing the assigned key combination. Excel should apply a border to the selected cells.

    (Screenshot 4: Custom shortcut successfully added)

By following these steps, you can create a custom shortcut to quickly insert a border in Excel, saving you time and effort when working with data formatting.

Testing and Using the Custom Shortcut

Using a custom keyboard shortcut in Excel can greatly improve efficiency and save time when performing repetitive tasks. However, it is crucial to test the custom shortcut to ensure it functions as expected. This chapter will explain the importance of testing the custom shortcut and demonstrate how to use it to quickly insert borders in Excel. Additionally, it will share some additional tips and tricks for optimizing the use of the shortcut.

Importance of Testing the Custom Shortcut

Before integrating the custom keyboard shortcut into your workflow, it is essential to test it thoroughly. This step helps in identifying any potential conflicts with existing shortcuts or macros, ensuring the shortcut works consistently, and avoiding any unintended consequences. Here are some reasons why testing is crucial:

  • Identifying conflicts: Testing the custom shortcut allows you to determine if any existing shortcuts or macros share the same key combination. This prevents accidental activation of unwanted functions or commands.
  • Ensuring consistency: By testing the custom shortcut, you can verify that it consistently performs the desired action. This helps avoid any unexpected behavior or errors when using the shortcut in your daily Excel tasks.
  • Preventing unintended consequences: Thorough testing helps identify any unintended consequences of the custom shortcut, such as changes to other formatting elements or accidental execution of complex macros. It allows you to make any necessary adjustments before fully integrating the shortcut into your workflow.

Using the Custom Shortcut to Insert Borders

Once the custom keyboard shortcut has been tested and verified, it can be used to quickly insert borders in Excel. Follow these steps to utilize the custom shortcut:

  1. Open an Excel worksheet and select the range or cells to which you want to apply borders.
  2. Press the custom keyboard shortcut that you have assigned specifically for inserting borders. If the shortcut is configured correctly, you will see the desired border type applied to the selected cells.
  3. If you want to change the border type or style, use the default Excel options or customize the shortcut accordingly.
  4. Repeat the process as needed to easily apply borders to different ranges or cells in your Excel workbook.

Tips and Tricks for Optimizing Shortcut Usage

While using the custom keyboard shortcut for inserting borders in Excel, consider the following tips and tricks to optimize its usage:

  • Assign a memorable shortcut: Choose a keyboard shortcut that is easy to remember and doesn't conflict with other frequently used shortcuts. This will make it more intuitive to use the custom shortcut without constantly referring to a cheat sheet.
  • Document your shortcut: Maintain a reference document or note to remind yourself of the custom shortcut you have assigned. This documentation will be helpful if you need to share the shortcut with colleagues or if you accidentally forget the key combination.
  • Consider multiple shortcuts: If you frequently use different border styles, consider assigning separate shortcuts for each type. This allows you to quickly switch between border styles without the need to manually change the options in Excel.
  • Regularly review and update shortcuts: As your Excel usage and requirements evolve, periodically review and update your custom shortcuts. This ensures they remain aligned with your current needs and preferences.

Troubleshooting common issues

While creating and using custom shortcuts in Excel can greatly enhance your productivity, there are certain issues that you may encounter along the way. Understanding these potential problems and their solutions or workarounds can help you make the most out of your custom keyboard shortcuts.

Potential issues when creating custom shortcuts

When creating custom shortcuts in Excel, you may come across the following issues:

  • Conflict with existing shortcuts: One common issue is when your custom shortcut conflicts with an existing shortcut in Excel. This can cause unexpected behavior or prevent your custom shortcut from working altogether.
  • Incompatibility with certain functions: Custom shortcuts may not work with all Excel functions or features. Some functions may have their own default shortcuts that cannot be overridden or may require specific input sequences.
  • Errors in shortcut creation: Mistakes or typos in the shortcut creation process can lead to errors. This may include incorrect key combinations, missing modifiers (such as Ctrl or Alt), or using keys that have special functions in Excel.

Solutions and workarounds

To address these issues, consider the following solutions and workarounds:

  • Check for conflicts: Before creating a custom shortcut, check if the desired key combination is already assigned to another function. If a conflict exists, consider modifying your custom shortcut to avoid the conflict.
  • Use alternative key combinations: If the desired key combination conflicts with an existing shortcut, try using alternative key combinations that are not already assigned. Experiment with different combinations to find one that suits your needs without conflicting with other shortcuts.
  • Utilize unused keys: Excel has many unused keys that can be used for custom shortcuts. These include function keys (F1 to F12), keys on the numeric keypad, or even combinations of Ctrl, Shift, or Alt with other keys. Explore these unused keys to create shortcuts that do not conflict with existing functions.
  • Debug shortcut creation: If you encounter errors while creating a custom shortcut, carefully review the steps you followed and verify that the key combination and modifiers are correct. Double-check for typos or missing characters. If the error persists, try creating the shortcut using a different approach or consult Excel's documentation or support resources for guidance.
  • Adjust workflow: In cases where a custom shortcut cannot be created due to incompatibility with certain functions, consider adapting your workflow to minimize the need for that particular shortcut. Explore alternative methods or tools within Excel to achieve the desired result.

By being aware of these potential issues and having the appropriate solutions or workarounds in mind, you can overcome any challenges that arise when creating and using custom keyboard shortcuts in Excel. This will ensure a smoother and more efficient experience as you leverage shortcuts to insert borders and perform other tasks quickly.


In conclusion, creating a custom keyboard shortcut to quickly insert a border in Excel offers numerous benefits. It saves time and effort by eliminating the need to navigate through multiple menus and options. With just a simple key combination, users can add professional-looking borders to their cells instantly. Moreover, exploring other custom shortcuts in Excel can further enhance productivity and streamline workflows. Whether it's inserting formulas, formatting cells, or performing data analysis, custom shortcuts can revolutionize the way we work in Excel. So, why wait? Start customizing your shortcuts and unlock Excel's full potential.

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