How to Use Text Wrap in Excel

By Joseph Levine

An Excel spreadsheet can seem ill-suited for entering text. In particular, a cell fits only about 9 characters before hitting the column border, making the entry appear truncated. To fix this, you can use the Wrap Text and Merge commands found on the Home tab of the Ribbon. Wrap Text makes text appear on multiple lines within the current column width. Merge lets your text span multiple columns.

Wrap Text in a Single Cell

Wrapping text in a cell is just another way of formatting the cell. To wrap text, select the cell and then click "Wrap Text" on the Home tab of the ribbon. You'll notice that the text wraps in the cell, but the column width stays the same. With a narrow column, you'll probably have a lot of line breaks, especially if you've entered a long string. To fix this, you can adjust the column width, and if necessary, the row height to accommodate the wrapped text.

Adjust Column Width and Row Height to Match your Wrapped Text

When you wrap text in a cell, you'll probably also want to adjust the column width and row height to match. To widen the column, point at the right side of the column letter with the mouse until you see the column splitter, and then drag the column splitter to the right. When you widen the column, you may see too much white space in the cell. You can fix this by adjusting the row height. Select the cell, and then on the Home tab of the ribbon, select "Format" and then "Autofit Row Height."

Merge Cells and Wrap Text

Instead of widening columns to fit wrapped text, you may sometimes prefer to merge cells across a number of columns. For example, perhaps you want to show a block of text across the top of your spreadsheet while retaining narrow columns below the block of text. To do this, drag across the cells you want to merge. For example, you might drag across a range of cells such as A1..E4. Click the "Merge" command you want in the Alignment group on the Home tab of the ribbon and then click "Wrap Text."

Wrap Text in All Cells in a Column or Row

You can quickly wrap text in all cells in a particular column or row using the same Wrap Text command on the ribbon. Just select the column or row and then select the command.