Modifying Columns, Rows, and Cells

In Excel column width can be modified, as can row height and width in Excel. Learn to modify Excel cells in this free Excel 2010 lesson.

Introduction

Lesson 17

When you open a new blank workbook, the cells are set to a default size. You have the ability to modify cells, as well as to insert and delete columns, rows, and cells as needed. In this lesson, you will learn how to change row height and column width, insert and delete rows and columns, wrap text in a cell, and merge cells.

Working with columns, rows, and cells

Video: Modifying Cells, Rows, and Columns in Excel 2010

Launch video!Watch the video (3:22).

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.

Optional: You can download this example for extra practice.

To modify column width:

  1. Position your mouse over the column line in the column heading so the white cross Cursor becomes a double arrow Double-arrow.
    Positioning mouse over the column line Positioning mouse over the column line
  2. Click and drag the column to the right to increase column width or to the left to decrease column width.
    Increasing the column width Increasing the column width
  3. Release the mouse. The column width will be changed in your spreadsheet.
    Increasing the column width Increased column width

If you see pound signs (#######) in a cell, it means the column is not wide enough to display the cell content. Simply increase the column width to show the cell content.

To set column width with a specific measurement:

  1. Select the columns you want to modify.
  2. Click the Format command on the Home tab. The format drop-down menu appears.
  3. Select Column Width.
    Increasing the column width Increasing the column width
  4. The Column Width dialog box appears. Enter a specific measurement.
    Increasing column width to 258 pixels Increasing column width to 258 pixels
  5. Click OK. The width of each selected column will be changed in your worksheet.

Select AutoFit Column Width from the format drop-down menu, and Excel will automatically adjust each selected column so all of the text will fit.

To modify row height:

  1. Position the cursor over the row line so the white cross Cursor becomes a double arrow Double-arrow.
    Positioning the mouse over the row line Positioning the mouse over the row line
  2. Click and drag the row downward to increase row height or upward to decrease height.
    Increasing the row height Increasing the row height
  3. Release the mouse. The height of each selected row will be changed in your worksheet.
    Increased row height Increased row height

To set row height with a specific measurement:

  1. Select the rows you want to modify.
  2. Click the Format command on the Home tab. The format drop-down menu appears.
  3. Select Row Height.
    Increasing the column width Increasing the column width
  4. The Row Height dialog box appears. Enter a specific measurement.
    Increasing row height to 60 pixels Increasing row height to 60 pixels
  5. Click OK. The selected rows heights will be changed in your spreadsheet.

Select AutoFit Row Height from the format drop-down menu, and Excel will automatically adjust each selected row so all of the text will fit.

To insert rows:

  1. Select the row below where you want the new row to appear.
    Selecting the row Selecting the row
  2. Click the Insert command on the Home tab.
    Selecting the Insert Cells command Selecting the Insert Cells command
  3. The new row appears in your worksheet.
    The inserted row The inserted row

When inserting new rows, columns, or cells, you will see the Insert Options button Cursor by the inserted cells. This button allows you to choose how Excel formats them. By default, Excel formats inserted rows with the same formatting as the cells in the row above them. To access more options, hover your mouse over the Insert Options button and click the drop-down arrow that appears.

Accessing Insert Options Accessing Insert Options

To insert columns:

  1. Select the column to the right of where you want the new column to appear. For example, if you want to insert a column between A and B, select column B.
    Selecting the column Selecting the column
  2. Click the Insert command on the Home tab.
    Selecting the Insert Cells command Selecting the Insert Cells command
  3. The new column appears in your worksheet.
    The inserted column The inserted column

By default, Excel formats inserted columns with the same formatting as the column to the left of them. To access more options, hover your mouse over the Insert Options button and click the drop-down arrow that appears.

Accessing Insert Options Accessing Insert Options

When inserting rows and columns, make sure to select the row or column by clicking its heading so all of the cells in that row or column are selected. If you select just a cell in the row or column, only a new cell will be inserted.

To delete rows:

  1. Select the rows you want to delete.
    Selecting the rows Selecting the rows
  2. Click the Delete command on the Home tab.
    Selecting the Delete command Selecting the Delete command
  3. The rows are deleted from your worksheet.
    The rows are deleted The rows are deleted

To delete columns:

  1. Select the columns you want to delete.
    Selecting the columns Selecting the columns
  2. Click the Delete command on the Home tab.
    Selecting the Delete command Selecting the Delete command
  3. The columns are deleted from your worksheet.
    The columns are deleted The columns are deleted

Wrapping text and merging cells

If a cell contains more text than can be displayed, you can choose to wrap the text within the cell or merge the cell with empty adjoining cells. Wrap text to make it display on multiple lines of the cell. Merge cells to combine adjoining cells into one larger cell.

To wrap text:

  1. Select the cells with text that you want to wrap.
    Selecting cells to wrap Selecting cells
  2. Select the Wrap Text command on the Home tab.
    Selecting the Wrap Text command Selecting the Wrap Text command
  3. The text in the selected cells will be wrapped in your worksheet.
    Cells with wrapped text Cells with wrapped text

If you change your mind, reclick the Wrap Text command to unwrap the text.

To merge cells using the Merge & Center command:

  1. Select the cells you want to merge.
    Selecting A1:D1 (A1, B1, C1, D1) Selecting A1:D1 (A1, B1, C1, D1)
  2. Select the Merge & Center command on the Home tab.
    Selecting the Merge & Center command Selecting the Merge & Center command
  3. The selected cells will be merged, and the text will be centered.
    A1 after merging with A1:I1 A1 after merging with B1:D1

If you change your mind, reclick the Merge & Center command to unmerge the cells.

To access more merge options:

Click the drop-down arrow next to the Merge & Center command on the Home tab. The merge drop-down menu appears.

Accessing more Merge options Accessing more Merge options

Challenge!

  1. Open an existing Excel 2010 workbook. If you want, you can use this example.
  2. Modify the size of a column. If you are using the example, make the column that contains board members' names larger.
  3. Modify the size of a row to be 46 pixels. If you are using the example, modify all the rows that contain text (rows 1-11).
  4. Insert a column between columns A and B.
  5. Insert a row between rows 3 and 4.
  6. Delete a column or row.
  7. Try merging some cells. If you are using the example, merge the cells in the top or title row (row 1).
  8. Try using the Text Wrap command on some cells. If you are using the example, wrap the text in the column that contains addresses.