How to Modify Cell Alignment & Indentation in Excel

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  • 0:01 Cell Alignment
  • 1:20 Vertical Alignment
  • 2:54 Horizontal Alignment
  • 4:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karen Sorensen

Karen has a Bachelors in Communications. She has 25 years of experience in Information Systems, Adult Learning and Virtual Training.

Cell alignment is a key feature when giving your spreadsheet a more organized and consistent look. This lesson will review the six different alignment short-cut commands and explain how to align numbers and text within a cell.

Cell Alignment

Probably the first question we need to answer is what do we mean by cell alignment? It sounds like my truck is pulling to the left and needs to get into the shop. With MS Excel, cell alignment is how your text or numbers are positioned in the cell. You can align vertically, meaning towards the top, the middle or the bottom. And you can also align horizontally, meaning to the left, the center or to the right.

Excel actually has its own defaults for alignment. For example, text, such as titles and labels, automatically align horizontally to the left, and numbers, however, are automatically aligned to the right. All data is vertically aligned to the bottom.

These default alignments are not always the best choice for displaying your data, so MS Excel has created short-cut icons to quickly and easily change the alignment. By aligning text or numbers, you improve the appearance of your spreadsheet and often make it easier to read and understand.

This lesson will review the alignment short-cut icons, which are located under the Home menu in the ribbon. You will also learn how to modify the alignment of your text and numbers to create a consistent and more organized look.

Vertical Alignment

Vertical means straight up and down, so vertical alignment in a cell would refer to where the data is positioned going up and down. This could be the top of the cell, the middle of the cell or across the bottom of the cell. On occasion, this type of alignment is used down a column of text identifying each row. However, this feature is primarily used when aligning titles and labels across the top of your columns. Let's take a look at an example.

In our lesson video (at 01:58), we have a spreadsheet detailing a basic, living cost comparison between two cities; Minneapolis, MN, and Tallahassee, FL. Across the top of the spreadsheet, there are two categories. One for Groceries and one for Housing. In each category, we have column titles for the two cities. All column titles are aligned (by default) horizontally to the left and vertically to the bottom. It would improve the appearance if we aligned them vertically in the middle.

So, here are the steps.

  1. Select the cells to align (in our example, this is A1 through G1)
  2. Go to the Home menu in the ribbon
  3. Look in the Alignment grouping of commands
  4. Click on the Middle Align command

Our titles are now aligned, or centered, between the top and the bottom of the cell.

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