Exploring the Power of F4 in Excel: What does F4 Do in Excel?

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Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool for data manipulation, and even experienced users can find new tricks and shortcuts to enhance their productivity. One such powerful tool is the F4 key, often underutilized and misunderstood.

Do you know what does F4 do in Excel? Most of the time, users don’t know anything about this function of Excel that’s why the real benefits of using F4 never appear.

In this article, we will dive deep into the multifaceted functions of F4 in Excel, from the basics to advanced techniques, and provide step-by-step guidance with images to help you master its capabilities.

Understanding the Basics: Repeating the Last Action              

F4 in Excel serves a fundamental purpose – it repeats the last action performed. Let’s explore how this works with some simple examples:

  1. Formatting: Suppose you’ve just applied a specific cell format to a cell, such as bold text or a specific number format. To apply the same format to another cell, select the target cell and press F4. Excel will replicate the formatting you applied to the previous cell.
  2. Cell References: When creating formulas, cell references are crucial. After entering a formula like “=A1+B1” and then copying it to other cells, you can press F4 to toggle between different reference types (relative, absolute, or mixed) for the selected cell.

Advanced Usage: Extending F4’s Capabilities

Now, let’s explore some advanced applications of the F4 key:

  1. Repeating Multiple Actions: F4 isn’t limited to repeating just one action. If you perform a series of actions (e.g., formatting, inserting rows, and applying borders) and want to replicate them, select the cell or range of cells where you want to apply these actions and press F4. Excel will repeat all the previous actions in sequence.
  2. Editing Formulas: F4 can also help when editing complex formulas. After selecting a cell with a formula and pressing F2 to edit it, you can use F4 to cycle through various parts of the formula and make quick changes.
  3. Repeat Table Formatting: If you have a formatted Excel table (or a list object), selecting a cell within it and pressing F4 will replicate the formatting, including cell styles, conditional formatting, and table structure, on the selected cell or range.

Advanced-Data Manipulation

F4 can be an invaluable asset when working with data. Here are some advanced techniques:

  1. Data Validation: When creating a list of valid entries in a cell (Data Validation), you can select a cell with this setup, press F4, and Excel will replicate the data validation settings.
  2. Transpose Data: To quickly transpose data from rows to columns or vice versa, select the data you want to transpose, press Ctrl+C (to copy), select the destination cell, press Ctrl+Alt+V, and then press F4. This sequence will transpose the data.
  3. Copying Multiple Sheets: If you’re working with multiple sheets, pressing F4 after copying a sheet will create additional copies of that sheet with the same content.


The F4 key in Excel is a versatile tool that can significantly boost your productivity, from simple formatting tasks to advanced data manipulation. By understanding and mastering the various applications of F4, you can work more efficiently and make the most of this powerful feature in Excel.

So, next time you find yourself repeating an action in Excel, remember the magic of F4 and save time and effort in your spreadsheet tasks.

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