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 2016 lesson.

Introduction

Video: Modifying Columns, Cells, and Rows

Launch "Modifying Columns, Cells, and Rows" video!Watch the video (4:32).

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, including wrapping text and merging cells.

Optional: Download our practice workbook.

To modify column width:

In our example below, some of the content in column A cannot be displayed. We can make all of this content visible by changing the width of column A.

  1. Position the mouse over the column line in the column heading so the white cross Cursor becomes a double arrow Double-arrow.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Hovering over the column line
  2. Click, hold, and drag the mouse to increase or decrease the column width.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Increasing the column width
  3. Release the mouse. The column width will be changed.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013The new 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 AutoFit column width:

The AutoFit feature will allow you to set a column's width to fit its content automatically.

  1. Position the mouse over the column line in the column heading so the white cross Cursor becomes a double arrow Double-arrow.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Hovering the mouse over the column line
  2. Double-click the mouse. The column width will be changed automatically to fit the content.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013The automatically sized column

You can also AutoFit the width for several columns at the same time. Simply select the columns you want to AutoFit, then select the AutoFit Column Width command from the Format drop-down menu on the Home tab. This method can also be used for row height.

Screenshot of Excel 2013AutoFitting columns width with the Format command

To modify row height:

  1. Position the cursor over the row line so the white cross Cursor becomes a double arrow Double-arrow.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Hovering the mouse over the row line
  2. Click, hold, and drag the mouse to increase or decrease the row height.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Increasing the row height
  3. Release the mouse. The height of the selected row will be changed.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013The new row height

To modify all rows or columns:

Rather than resizing rows and columns individually, you can modify the height and width of every row and column at the same time. This method allows you to set a uniform size for every row and column in your worksheet. In our example, we will set a uniform row height.

  1. Locate and click the Select All button select all button just below the formula bar to select every cell in the worksheet.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Selecting every cell in a worksheet
  2. Position the mouse over a row line so the white cross Cursor becomes a double arrow Double-arrow.
  3. Click, hold, and drag the mouse to increase or decrease the row height.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Modifying the height of all rows
  4. Release the mouse when you are satisfied with the new row height for the worksheet.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013The uniform row height

Inserting, deleting, moving, and hiding rows and columns

After you've been working with a workbook for a while, you may find that you want to insert new columns or rows, delete certain rows or columns, move them to a different location in the worksheet, or even hide them.

To insert rows:

  1. Select the row heading below where you want the new row to appear. For example, if you want to insert a row between rows 7 and 8, select row 8.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Selecting a row
  2. Click the Insert command on the Home tab.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Clicking the Insert command
  3. The new row will appear above the selected row.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013The new row

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

Screenshot of Excel 2013The Insert Options button

To insert columns:

  1. Select the column heading to the right of where you want the new column to appear. For example, if you want to insert a column between columns D and E, select column E.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Selecting a column
  2. Click the Insert command on the Home tab.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Clicking the Insert command
  3. The new column will appear to the left of the selected column.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013The new column

When inserting rows and columns, make sure you select the entire row or column by clicking the heading. If you select only a cell in the row or column, the Insert command will only insert a new cell.

To delete rows:

It's easy to delete any row that you no longer need in your workbook.

  1. Select the row(s) you want to delete. In our example, we'll select rows 6-8.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Selecting rows to delete
  2. Click the Delete command on the Home tab.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Clicking the Delete command
  3. The selected row(s) will be deleted, and the rows below will shift up. In our example, rows 9-11 are now rows 6-8.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Rows 9-11 shifted up to replace rows 6-8

To delete columns:

  1. Select the columns(s) you want to delete. In our example, we'll select column E.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Selecting a column to delete
  2. Click the Delete command on the Home tab.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Clicking the Delete command
  3. The selected columns(s) will be deleted, and the columns to the right will shift left. In our example, Column F is now Column E.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Column F shifted right to replace column E

It's important to understand the difference between deleting a row or column and simply clearing its contents. If you want to remove the content of a row or column without causing others to shift, right-click a heading, then select Clear Contents from the drop-down menu.

Screenshot of Excel 2013Clearing the contents from several rows

To move a row or column:

Sometimes you may want to move a column or row to rearrange the content of your worksheet. In our example we'll move a column, but you can move a row in the same way.

  1. Select the desired column heading for the column you want to move, then click the Cut command on the Home tab or press Ctrl+X on your keyboard.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Cutting an entire column
  2. Select the column heading to the right of where you want to move the column. For example, if you want to move a column between columns B and C, select column C.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Choosing a destination for the column
  3. Click the Insert command on the Home tab, then select Insert Cut Cells from the drop-down menu.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Inserting the column
  4. The column will be moved to the selected location, and the columns to the right will shift right.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013The moved column

You can also access the Cut and Insert commands by right-clicking the mouse and then selecting the desired commands from the drop-down menu.

Screenshot of Excel 2013Right-clicking to Insert Cut Cells

To hide and unhide a row or column:

At times, you may want to compare certain rows or columns without changing the organization of your worksheet. Excel allows you to hide rows and columns as needed. In our example, we'll hide columns C and D to make it easier to compare columns A, B, and E.

  1. Select the column(s) you want to hide, right-click the mouse, then select Hide from the formatting menu.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Hiding the selected columns
  2. The columns will be hidden. The green column line indicates the location of the hidden columns.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013The hidden columns
  3. To unhide the columns, select the columns to the left and right of the hidden columns (in other words, the columns on both sides of the hidden columns). In our example, we'll select columns B and E.
  4. Right-click the mouse, then select Unhide from the formatting menu. The hidden columns will reappear.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Unhiding the hidden columns

Wrapping text and merging cells

Whenever you have too much cell content to be displayed in a single cell, you may decide to wrap the text or merge the cell rather than resize a column. Wrapping the text will automatically modify a cell's row height, allowing cell contents to be displayed on multiple lines. Merging allows you to combine a cell with adjacent empty cells to create one large cell.

To wrap text in cells:

In our example below, we'll wrap the text of the cells in column D so the entire address can be displayed.

  1. Select the cells you want to wrap. In this example, we'll select the cells in column D.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Selecting cells to wrap
  2. Select the Wrap Text command on the Home tab.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Clicking the Wrap Text command
  3. The text in the selected cells will be wrapped.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013The wrapped text

Click the Wrap Text command again to unwrap the text.

To merge cells using the Merge & Center command:

In our example below, we'll merge cell A1 with cells B1:E1 to create a title heading for our worksheet.

  1. Select the cell range you want to merge.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Selecting cell range A1:E1
  2. Select the Merge & Center command on the Home tab.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Clicking the Merge & Center command
  3. The selected cells will be merged, and the text will be centered.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Cell A1 after merging with B1:E1

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 will appear. From here, you can choose to:

Screenshot of Excel 2013Accessing more Merge options

Challenge!

  1. Open an existing Excel 2013 workbook. If you want, you can use our practice workbook.
  2. Modify the width of a column. If you are using the example, use the column that contains the players' first names.
  3. Insert a column between column A and column B, then insert a row between row 3 and row 4.
  4. Delete a column or a row.
  5. Move a column or row.
  6. Try using the Text Wrap command on a cell range. If you are using the example, wrap the text in the column that contains street addresses.
  7. Try merging some cells. If you are using the example, merge the cells in the title row using the Merge & Center command (cell range A1:E1).