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Why Forward-Slash (/) Key Does Not Work in Excel

By Chris Newman •  Updated: 04/23/22 •  2 min read
Why is forward slash key not working in Excel

Why Can’t I Type Forward Slash In Excel?

Hopefully, you have landed on this page because you are quite confused as to why Excel prevents you from starting a cell value off with a forward slash. This is because, for some reason, Microsoft has decided to enable by default a very old keyboard shortcut from a relic spreadsheet application called Lotus 1-2-3 (from the 1980s).

In Lotus 1-2-3, hitting the forward-slash key was a keyboard shortcut to activate the application’s menu. Excel actually has other compatibility shortcuts it has ported from the old Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet program such as allowing you to use the plus sign (+) to start a cell formula (a useful shortcut if you utilize the 10-key number pad).

Since in Excel, you can use the Alt key to activate the Ribbon menu, using the forward-slash key is pretty useless unless you were a power user of 1-2-3 back in the 80s and still have the muscle memory engrained to hit that slash key to start off your menu shortcuts. Maybe there are a couple of people still around that might be using this 😀.

Fixing This Issue

In order to fix this issue, you will need to tweak a preference in your Excel options. The following steps will walk you through removing this default setting:

  1. Click the File Tab
  2. Select Options
  3. Activate the Advanced menu item in the left-hand pane
  4. Scroll down all the way to the bottom to the Lotus Compatibility section
  5. Remove the / value from the Microsoft Excel Menu Key text box
  6. Click OK
Lotus compatibility with Excel settings.

You’re All Set!

After you have hit the OK button, this setting will be adjusted. Since it is an Application-level setting, it will apply to all currently opened Excel files and any Excel files you open or create in the future. Why Microsoft has this particular setting set by default absolutely blows my mind, but luckily once you’ve changed it you don’t have to worry about it in the future.

I Hope This Helped!

Hopefully, I was able to explain how you can modify your Excel options to allow entering a forward slash into a cell. If you have any questions about this technique or suggestions on how to improve it, please let me know in the comments section below.

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Chris Newman

Chris Newman

Chris is a finance professional and Excel MVP recognized by Microsoft since 2016. With his expertise, he founded TheSpreadsheetGuru blog to help fellow Excel users, where he shares his vast creative solutions & expertise. In addition, he has developed over 7 widely-used Excel Add-ins that have been embraced by individuals and companies worldwide.