Karen has a Bachelors in Communications. She has 25 years of experience in Information Systems, Adult Learning and Virtual Training.
Excel is often used to create spreadsheets using numbers. However, you may find yourself needing to add large amounts of text. For instance, you may have created a list of your friends that will receive Christmas cards this year. You have the basic information such as name and address, but you might also want to create a column for a note or comment. Maybe your friends travel and tend to be in different places, different times of the year. You may need to add a comment to their information detailing their schedule and travel plans, so you know where to send the card.
Wrapping text means you want your text to appear on multiple lines, rather than one long line of text. This allows you to keep the column width to a manageable size and consistent throughout your spreadsheet. Otherwise, you might need a cell that is 100 characters wide in order to fit the comment.
Excel has a feature that allows you to format a cell so that the text will be automatically converted to multiple lines, once the column width boundaries have been exceeded. You can also use the wrap text feature to control the way your header titles are displayed. This lesson will introduce you to the feature and demonstrate how to format cells to automatically format your text to display using multiple lines.
The Format Cells Command
There are two ways to access the Format Cells command, you can use the Ribbon or right-click. Let's take a look at using the ribbon commands.
- Go to the Home menu in the ribbon.
- Look in the Cells grouping of commands.
- Click on Format to expand the options menu.
- Select Format Cells (it's at the bottom of the list).
When the Format Cells dialogue box opens, it can be a bit intimidating. But no worries. These are simple options that allow us to change the way our text and numbers are displayed. You will see six tabs across the top of our dialogue box: Numbers, Alignment, Font, Border, Fill and Protection. In our lesson, we will focus on the Alignment properties. If you prefer the right-click method, you can place your cursor in the cell you want to format, right-click and choose Format Cells from the drop-down menu.
Formatting to Wrap Text
Now, let's take a look at how to actually format the cell(s). You can format one cell at a time or select an entire column to format all at once. In our example of the Christmas card list, we have a column titled Comments. In this case, we will format the entire column. Notice that our comments are on one line of text and this requires the column width to be quite large. If we want to print our list, the overlap will require more pages. We want to print the list on one page. Wrapping our text will allow us to make the column width smaller, thereby giving us the ability to keep our list on one page when printed.
- Start by selecting the cell or column you want to format for wrapped text.
- Click on Format in the Cells grouping of commands.
- Choose Format Cells from the drop-down menu.
- Click on the Alignment tab.
- Select Wrap Text under the Text Control Options.
- Click OK.
Excel immediately changes the format to multiple lines and adjusts the row height to accommodate the new format. Now we can print our list on one page, it looks neater and more organized, and is easier to read.
Before we wrap it up (no pun intended), let me point out one more element under the Alignment tab. Look in the Text Alignment section. You have the option to align your wrapped text horizontally, such as right, center and left. And you also can align the text vertically, such as top, center and bottom.
You learned in this lesson that wrapping text can make it much easier to read and print large amounts of text added to an Excel spreadsheet. We normally use Excel for numbers and calculations, but adding a column for comments or notes is not uncommon. The Wrap Text feature can help you accommodate the text and format the cell to use multiple lines, in lieu of one long line of text.
You will find the command under the Home menu, in the Cells grouping of commands. Just click on Format, and select Format Cells from the drop-down list. Go to the Alignment tab, and put a check in the Wrap Text option box. Excel will do the rest. Try it out the next time your add text to a spreadsheet! You will find this to be a very handy feature.
Your objective at the end of the video should be to:
- Describe wrapping text and why you may need to use it in an excel document
- Recognize how to use the Format Cells command
- List the steps on how to format the cells to wrap text
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