Changing Width of Columns and Rows

Learning Objectives

  • Change width of columns and rows.

After you have entered several columns of data into a worksheet, you may realize you cannot read all the information in every cell. In this case you may want to resize the column. Microsoft Excel allows you resize column width to AutoFit the text, meaning each column will be sized according to the longest string of text in the column. Alternatively, for visual appeal, you may want all the columns in your table to have the same length; you can easily change multiple columns at the same time to have the same width. As in previous pages, the steps below explain how to resize a column, but the same steps can be used to resize a row as well.

AutoFit Column Width to Text

First, we will discuss making a column width AutoFit to the length of text in that column. Note that when you AutoFit column widths, Excel will make the column length match that of the longest string of text in any cell in that column.

Method 1

  1. Identify the column you wish to resize.
  2. Hover your mouse on the right boundary of the topmost cell of that column so that you see a cross or T shape. (If you are resizing a row, you will hover over the bottom boundary)
  3. Double-click on that right boundary.
  4. The column will automatically resize to fit the longest string of text in that column.

Compare the three columns on the left with the three on the right to see the results.

There are two excel sheets open each have numbers in columns A1 through C4.

Method 2

You may also use the Format button in the Cells group of the ribbon to achieve the same results. From the dropdown menu, you will choose AutoFit Column Width or AutoFit Row Height. Note that if you wish to resize multiple columns, simply select them all before clicking on the Format button.

An excel sheet is open with numbers in columns A1 through C4. There are two green arrows each pointing at options from the dropdown menu of the cell size format. One arrow is pointing at the option to "AutoFit Row Height" the other is to "Auto Fit Column Width".

Practice Question

 

Set all columns to the same width

At other times, from visual reasons you may wish all columns (or rows) to have the same width (or height), regardless of the amount of text in them. Or you may want a single column to have a specified width.

Method 1

In this case, you will use the pixel information provided by Excel to manually resize the columns.

  1. Identify the column width you wish to resize.
  2. Hover your mouse on the right boundary of that column so that you see a cross or T shape. (If you are resizing a row, you will hover over the bottom boundary)
  3. Hold down your mouse button and drag the right boundary until you reach the desired pixel width. The pixels will be displayed in the parentheses.
  4. Release the mouse button.
An excel sheet is open with numbers in columns A1 through C4. There is a green arrow pointing at the option to adjust the width of the cell size.

Method 2

You may also use the Format button in the Cells group of the ribbon to set a specific column width. From the dropdown menu, you will choose Column Width or Row Height and manually type in the size you wish each column (or row) to be. Again, if you wish to resize multiple columns, simply select them all before clicking on the Format button.

An excel sheet is open with numbers in columns A1 through C4. A column width dropdown menu has been opened showing options on how to adjust the column width.

Practice Question

Check Your Understanding

Answer the question(s) below to see how well you understand the topics covered in the previous section. This short quiz does not count toward your grade in the class, and you can retake it an unlimited number of times.

Use this quiz to check your understanding and decide whether to (1) study the previous section further or (2) move on to the next section.