From time to time, you may need to adjust the column width or row height of an Excel spreadsheet. This lesson will demonstrate different ways to make these adjustments.
Row Height & Column Width
In most cases, you will need to adjust the height of a row or the width of a column in an Excel spreadsheet. And, even though Excel will usually adjust the row height automatically, you will still need to adjust the height from time to time.
This lesson will review some of the circumstances when you might need to make these adjustments and guide you through different ways to adjust column width and the row height in Excel.
Let's review some basic rules for columns and rows.
- Columns: The value or number of the column width is the number of characters that can be displayed in a cell. Excel will default the width to 8 characters (it's actually 8.11). You can set the column width from 0 to 255. If you set the width to 0 (zero), Excel hides the column.
- Rows: The default height is 12.8. The number is a measurement in points - 1 point is about 1/72 of an inch tall. This makes the default height about 1/6 of an inch. Again, just like columns, if you set the row height to 0 (zero), Excel will hide the row.
With the rules out of the way, we can move on to adjusting the height and width values.
Probably the most common reason for adjusting the column width is for the header row, which is a row of column titles. The titles are displayed across the top of the spreadsheet, identifying the subject or content of the column. For example, if we were to create a spreadsheet detailing a list of customers to receive a discount coupon both by mail and email, we would likely need the following five columns:
- Customer Name
- Customer Email
- Customer Mailing Address
- Email Sent (Y/N)
- Mail (postal) Sent (Y/N)
Now, remember our rules? The standard default width is about eight characters. Our shortest title is 14. This is going to require an adjustment to the width of the column. Once we get our titles and information entered, we have two options. We can select one column at a time and adjust them individually or we can select all the columns at once and adjust them all to the same width.
Regardless, you have several ways to get this done. I will discuss the three most common ways to adjust column width.
Option Number One: Enter an exact value for the width.
You can use the ribbon commands or the right-click method to enter an exact number for the width of your column.
To use the ribbon commands:
- Select the column(s)
- Go to the Home menu in the ribbon
- Look in the Cells grouping of commands
- Click on Format
- Select Column Width
- Enter the value
To use the right-click method:
- Select the column(s)
- Right-click with your mouse anywhere in the selected area
- Select Column Width from the options menu
- Enter the value
Option Number Two: Use your mouse to drag the column wider or narrower.
Hover you mouse over the right-side boundary of a column until your cursor becomes a 2-sided arrow. Drag the boundary of the column heading until the column is the width that you want. If you select multiple columns, all selected columns will adjust at the same time, to the same width.
Option Number Three: Use the auto-fit feature.
I believe the auto-fit feature is the easiest to use. Select the column(s), hover your mouse over the column boundary until it becomes a 2-sided arrow and double-click. That's it. Excel will automatically adjust the selected columns to the correct width.
Excel actually does a nice job of auto-adjusting the row height, especially if you change the size of a font. However, one common reason to manually adjust the row height is for wrapped text within a cell.
If you wrap text in a cell, it means that the text will appear on multiple lines. For instance, there may be a customer who's very excited about receiving discount coupons but who lives in different locations at different times of the year. This type of entry would probably be displayed more effectively as a note by using multiple lines rather than one long line of text. So, you're going to need to adjust that row height.
The steps to adjust row height are very similar to adjusting the column width. You can select a row(s), go to the ribbon menu and after you click on the Format command, click on Row Height instead of Column Width.
The right-click method also works well for adjusting the row height. Again, choose Row Height from the options menu, rather than Column Width.
The auto-fit feature works the same way with row height adjustments. Select the row, hover your mouse over the row's bottom boundary until your cursor becomes a 2-sided arrow and double-click.
Here is a tip. For some people, using the mouse by dragging or double-clicking is not comfortable, and you may prefer to always work with exact values. That's no problem! All adjustments can be made by going to the Cells grouping of commands in the ribbon and clicking on Format - even the auto-fit feature.
This lesson reviewed different options for adjusting the height of a row and the width of a column. You learned that going to the Home menu in the ribbon, you can click on the Format command and enter values for height and width. You also learned that if you select a row or column, or multiple rows and columns, you can right-click and choose to adjust height and width.
Finally, you learned that Excel has a feature that will automatically 'fit' text and numbers to the correct width and height. You will find this feature in the ribbon, or you can hover your mouse over a cell or column boundary and double-click.
Play with the options a bit to find what you prefer. Every user is different when it comes to using keyboard strokes or the mouse.
After watching the video lesson, you should be able to:
- Recall the rules involving columns and rows in Excel
- List the most common reasons for adjusting the column width and how to do it
- Describe how you can alter the height of a row