By default, every row and column of a new workbook is set to the same height and width. Excel allows you to modify column width and row height in different ways, including wrapping text and merging cells.
Optional: Download our practice workbook.
Watch the video below to learn more about modifying columns, rows, and cells.
To modify column width:
In our example below, column C is too narrow to display all of the content in these cells. We can make all of this content visible by changing the width of column C.
Position the mouse over the column line in the column heading so the cursor becomes a double arrow.
With numerical data, the cell will display pound signs (#######) if the column is too narrow. Simply increase the column width to make the data visible.
To AutoFit column width:
The AutoFit feature will allow you to set a column’s width to fit its content automatically.
Position the mouse over the column line in the column headingso the cursor becomes a double arrow.
You can also AutoFit the width for several columns at the same time. Simply select the columns you want to AutoFit, then select the AutoFit Column Width command from the Format drop-down menu on the Home tab. This method can also be used for row height.
To modify row height:
To modify all rows or columns:
Instead of resizing rows and columns individually, you can modify the height and width of every row and column at the same time. This method allows you to set a uniform size for every row and column in your worksheet. In our example, we will set a uniform row height.
Position the mouse over a row line so the cursor becomes a double arrow.
Inserting, deleting, moving, and hiding
After you’ve been working with a workbook for a while, you may find that you want to insert new columns or rows, delete certain rows or columns, move them to a different location in the worksheet, or even hide them.
To insert rows:
To insert columns:
To delete a row or column:
It’s easy to delete a row or column that you no longer need. In our example we’ll delete a row, but you can delete a column the same way.
The selected row will be deleted, and those around it will shift. In our example, row 10 has moved up, so it’s now row 9.
To move a row or column:
Sometimes you may want to move a column or row to rearrange the content of your worksheet. In our example we’ll move a column, but you can move a row in the same way.
To hide and unhide a row or column:
At times, you may want to compare certain rows or columns without changing the organization of your worksheet. To do this, Excel allows you to hide rows and columns as needed. In our example we’ll hide a few columns, but you can hide rows in the same way.
The hidden columns will reappear.
Wrapping text and merging cells
Whenever you have too much cell content to be displayed in a single cell, you may decide to wrap the text or merge the cell rather than resize a column. Wrapping the text will automatically modify a cell’s row height, allowing cell contents to be displayed on multiple lines. Merging allows you to combine a cell with adjacent empty cells to create one large cell.
To wrap text in cells:
Select the cells you want to wrap. In this example, we’ll select the cells in column C.
To merge cells using the Merge & Center command:
Select the cell range you want to merge. In our example, we’ll select A1:F1.
To access additional merge options:
From here, you can choose to:
Merge & Center: This merges the selected cells into one cell and centers the text.
Merge Across: This merges the selected cells into larger cells while keeping each row separate.
Merge Cells: This merges the selected cells into one cell but does not center the text.
Unmerge Cells: This unmerges selected cells.
Be careful when using this feature. If you merge multiple cells that all contain data, Excel will keep only the contents of the upper-left cell and discard everything else.
Centering across selection
Merging can be useful for organizing your data, but it can also create problems later on. For example, it can be difficult to move, copy, and paste content from merged cells. A good alternative to merging is to Center Across Selection, which creates a similar effect without actually combining cells.
Watch the video below to learn why you should use Center Across Selection instead of merging cells.
To use Center Across Selection:
Select the desired cell range. In our example, we’ll select A1:F1. Note: If you already merged these cells, you should unmerge them before continuing to step 2.
The content will be centered across the selected cell range. As you can see, this creates the same visual result as merging and centering, but it preserves each cell within A1:F1.
Open our practice workbook.
Autofit Column Width for the entire workbook.
Modify the row height for rows 3 to 14 to 22.5 (30 pixels).
Delete row 10.
Insert a column to the left of column C. Type SECONDARY CONTACT in cell C2.
Make sure cell C2 is still selected and choose Wrap Text.
Merge and Center cells A1:F1.
Hide the Billing Address and Phone columns.
When you’re finished, your workbook should look something like this: