1. Technology
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

How Do I Use the Undo and Redo Buttons in Excel 2003?


Excel Undo and Redo buttons

Excel Undo and Redo buttons

© Ted French
Question: How Do I Use the Undo and Redo Buttons in Excel 2003?

Overview of Undo and Redo

  • The Undo Command
    The Undo command in Excel is a very useful feature. The name explains its function in that, it allows you to undo a number of recent actions in a worksheet. If a formula is accidentally deleted or data somehow gets moved to a different cell, these actions can be corrected by clicking on the Undo button on the Standard Toolbar.

  • The Redo Command
    To go along with Undo is Redo. Once you have undone something you can change your mind and redo that step with the Redo button. Although it may be a bit confusing at first, the two work hand in hand to allow you to quickly step through a number of recent changes to your worksheet.

How the Undo and Redo Commands Work in Excel 2003
Excel uses a portion of the computer's memory to maintain a list of recent changes to a worksheet. The undo/redo combination of commands allows you to move forward and back through this list to remove or reapply those changes in the order they were first made.

For example - If you are trying to undo some recent formatting changes, but accidentally go one step too far and undo something you wanted to keep, rather than having to go through the necessary formatting steps to get it back, clicking on the Redo button will bring back that last format change.

Limitations to Undo and Redo
Although they are a handy pair of commands, there are some limitations in their use.

  1. You must Undo or Redo steps in the reverse order they were first done. You can't, for example, jump through the list picking which steps you would like to undo and leave the rest. All the work between the last step and the step you want to undo, gets undone as well.

    So, before you decide to undo something, think about how much work it will be to redo manually all those steps that will be wiped out if you proceed.

  2. Every time you save a worksheet, you wipe out the undo/redo list. Saving your worksheet on a regular basis, say every five minutes, is a very good habit to get into. Doing so, however, eliminates the undo/redo option beyond the last few items.

    Personally, I would not go without saving a worksheet just to have more steps in the undo/redo list. It's more important to secure your data on the computer's hard drive than it is to be able to undo some recent changes.

Multiple Undo's or Redo's
Both the Undo/Redo command buttons are available on the Standard Toolbar, which is loaded by default when you first open Excel. These icons are identified on the image above. These commands are also available under the EDIT menu on the menu bar.

Next to each of these icons on the standard toolbar is a small down arrow. Clicking on this arrow opens a drop down box showing a list of items that can be undone or redone. By highlighting a number of items in this list you can undo or redo multiple steps at one time.

Redo Command's Repeat Last Action
The Redo command has an additional feature in that it allows you to repeat your last action. For Example - If you changed the text in a cell to purple, you could use the redo command to make that same change to the text in another cell. This use of redo can't be done with the toolbar button, but must be done through the EDIT menu or by using the key combination CTRL+Y on the keyboard.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.