Running a “paper tape” in Excel

Today’s tip comes courtesy of Francis Hayes – The Excel Addict, where he explains how to simulate a “paper tape” function in Excel. For you young’uns who are confused by this concept… in the olden days, people used to add numbers on an adding machine, which often produced a paper tape as the numbers were entered. You would get a total, plus a visual list of numbers that got you to that total. You could then confirm that you entered everything correctly. Some habits die hard however, and here’s how you can do the same type of “paper tape” function in Excel.

In a blank Excel spreadsheet, click the column header to highlight the entire column. You can start entering numbers in the first cell that’s not highlighted, and you use your Enter key to go to the next cell. Don’t use your mouse or the cursor control keys, or it will de-select the entire column:


Here I’ve entered four numbers, and you can see the running total in the Status bar. If you need to correct a number you’ve already entered, use SHIFT + ENTER to go back up the column:


If you want to have a final total in the actual column, press the TAB key to create a blank cell, and then press ALT + = to show the total of all the cells in the column. Now you can print it out or do whatever you need in order to have proof that you added up all the numbers correctly:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s