By default, if you have ever tried to pack a large amount of data into one cell – be it a long username or number – you usually end up having that text run across multiple cells, making your spreadsheet look messy and unorganized.
Fortunately, this issue can be quickly solved using a few simple built-in Excel features that allow you to wrap text and display cell contents without overflowing into other worksheet cells – no matter how much data you put in there.
This step-by-step guide will show you how to automatically wrap text in Excel as well as how to insert a line break manually.
How Text Wrapping Works in Excel
The column width in Excel depends on the default font of the workbook, but the standard setting is just 8.43 characters. Once you’ve exceeded this number, there are two possible scenarios:
1. If the adjacent cells are empty, the text extends beyond the boundaries of the cell, running over the cells in the same row to fully display the cell content.
2. If the adjacent cell already contains some data, the text stays within its own cell, and you can see only the part that fits the column width.
And what does the wrap text feature do? It kills two birds with one stone: it makes sure that the entire cell contents get displayed without running over other cells – no matter how much data you decide to pack into that cell.
Of course, you can just double-click on the column border to adjust its width, but that takes time and effort that you can save using with the help of a few simple tweaks.
How to Wrap Text Using the Wrap Text Option
Wrapping text in Excel is a simple task that can be done straight in the Ribbon. Here’s how you can do it:
1. Select one or more cells that you want to format.
2. Click the Home tab.
3. In the “Alignment” group, click the “Wrap text” button.
Useful note: alternatively, you can use the Alt + H + W shortcut to do the same thing.
Easy-peasy! We’ve reached our goal, and that’s how the wrapped text looks like:
However, there are some more things we can do to improve it:
4. Click the header boundary of column B and drag it to the right to adjust the width of that column.
5. In the Home tab, navigate to the “Cells” group and click “Format.”
6. In the drop-down menu that appears, click “AutoFit Row Height.”
Useful note: you can skip steps 5 and 6 by selecting the rows that you want to format and double-clicking on their border.
Congratulations, now it looks nice and tidy.
How to Wrap Text Using the “Format Cells” Dialog Box
This method takes longer than the previous one, but it may come in handy if you want to change a couple of settings at once, for example, to wrap text and adjust text alignment.
1. Select a cell or group of cells that you want to format.
2. Click the Home tab.
3. In the “Alignment” group, click the “Alignment Setting” dialog box launcher (a small downward-pointing arrow at the bottom right corner).
Useful note: alternatively, in order to open the “Format Cells” dialog box, you can also use the Ctrl + 1 shortcut or right-click on the selected cells and choose “Format Cells…” from the contextual menu that appears.
4. In the “Format Cells” dialog box that appears, switch to the Alignment tab.
5. Under “Text Control,” check the “Wrap text” textbox.
6. Click “OK.”
Awesome, now you’ve mastered one more way of wrapping text in Excel.
How to Add Line Breaks to Wrap Text in Excel
Last but not least, we will show you one more method that can move a certain part of your text to a new line within the same cell by inserting a line break.
1. Double-click on the cell that you want to modify (in our case, it’s B2) to enable editing (or press the F2 key).
2. Put the cursor where you want to add a break (for illustration purposes, we have decided to put it before the word “by.”)
3. Press the Alt + Enter shortcut (while holding down the Alt key, press Enter).
As you can see, the text after the cursor has been shifted to the next line in the same cell. Additionally, the “Wrap Text” option was automatically activated.
What’s the difference between just wrapping text and adding a line break? In the latter case, if you try to make the column wider, the formatting will stay the same.