The situation is this: Basically, I have a table which users have to fill up. The fields in the table are either numerals or alphabets. Typically, a user will use the Tab key to traverse the table. But after understanding the user more, our team found out a user pattern which is quite prominent among our users - that they use the number pad very frequently for numeral values. People who work in accounting should find this very familiar.

In short, should we allow users traverse using the Enter key, an add on on top of the Tab key.

Personally, I think there really isn't any harm in doing so and might be a good opportunity to improve the UX of the system I'm designing.

I'm assuming there will be some challenges to usability but don't think they actually make a good argument against this:

  1. User maps the system's functionality to Excel spreadsheet. The Enter key actually moves downwards along the spreadsheet while Tab moves across the spreadsheet.It is minor but still, inconsistency with their expectations.

  2. Enter can be used to submit a short form, meaning there will be separate behaviors for a single Key.

  • This question can help you: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/36713/… Apr 18, 2017 at 8:00
  • I think you have to provide some more informations, like: what is the percentage of users who use the number pad? Does your UI use Enter key for save or submit? And do you know if your users save/submit through it?
    – panna
    Apr 18, 2017 at 9:44

1 Answer 1


I think that allowing only the Tab key to move between cells is OK in this situation. If users are using the numeric keypad, likely with their right hand, then they can leave a finger from their left hand on the Tab key to move to the next cell. With that said, though, I also don't see any harm in allowing the Enter key to also move forward to the next cell. Of course, you should also support Shift-Tab to move backwards to previous cells, in which case the entire contents of the cell should be selected, allowing the user to overtype with a new value rather than having to backspace over (or select with the mouse) the value to be replaced.

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