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Microsoft Excel shown off supporting handwriting recognition at Surface event

9 essential apps if you own a Surface Pen
9 essential apps if you own a Surface Pen (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft showed off handwriting recognition inside Microsoft Excel at the October Surface event.
  • Handwriting recognition makes it easier to use a pen on devices like the Surface Pro 7.
  • Handwriting recognition is already supported on several Microsoft apps like Microsoft Word.

In addition to showing off several new pieces of hardware, Microsoft showed off a new handwriting recognition feature for Microsoft Excel at the October Surface event. During the Surface keynote, the presenter used an Ink Editor to hand write numbers and figures into an Excel spreadsheet.

Several Microsoft apps already support handwriting recognition, such as Word and OneNote, but Microsoft pointed out that many Excel users feel left out. With this new feature, Excel users will be able to edit spreadsheets with a pen.

The feature does not have a release date at this point.

Here's everything Microsoft announced at its Surface 2019 event

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at

  • As a heavy Excel user I have never wished to be able to input using a pen...that being said. I'm soooo going to try it.
  • I would have needed pen input a few times in Excel.
    Really cool.
  • haha I mean I think it'll be nice for the few quick edits, but no one is going to be hand writing a very large excel spreadsheet
  • brilliant. Now, how about making EDGE DEV recognize a PEN!!!???
  • Kind of neat, but I would have personally rather seen them squeeze a number pad into the 15" Surface Laptop 3 (which you can get from a few competitors, namely ASUS). This would be nicer if they had a touch display to use this in an office, a la the Studio, I think.