How to Merge Cells in Excel Without Merging Actually

One of the most commonly used features in Excel is merging cells, which allows you to combine multiple cells into a single, larger cell. While this can be useful for formatting purposes, it can also create challenges when working with data that needs to be sorted or filtered. If you’re looking for an alternative to merging cells in Excel, this article will show you how to merge cells in Excel without merging.

Overview of How to Merge Cell Value in Excel Without Actually Merging Cells

In particular, we will focus on the Center Across Selection feature, which allows you to create the appearance of merged cells without actually merging them. We will walk you through the three simple steps to utilizing this feature in Excel, as well as discuss its limitations.

Why Should You Avoid Merging Cells in Excel and Seek Alternative?

Merging cells in Excel is a common practice, but it’s not always the best option. In fact, there are several reasons why you should avoid merging cells in your Excel spreadsheets and use alternative methods instead.

Sorting and Filtering Become Challenging: Merging cells creates a hurdle while sorting or filtering data in Excel. When you merge cells, it changes the way Excel treats the data in those cells. Instead of individual cells, Excel treats them as single cells, making it challenging to sort and filter them. Therefore, if you need to sort or filter data, it’s better not to merge cells.

Calculation Errors: When you merge cells in Excel, you also merge the data in those cells. This means that any formulas that refer to those cells will be affected, resulting in incorrect results. It can cause confusion for anyone trying to review your spreadsheet, making it challenging to identify the source of the error.

Printing Issues: When you merge cells, the merged cells appear as a single cell on the screen. However, when you print the spreadsheet, the merged cells can cause formatting issues, such as split cells or overlapping data. Therefore, it’s best not to merge cells when preparing your Excel spreadsheet for printing.

Data Entry Problems: Merging cells can cause data entry issues, especially if you have multiple people entering data into the same spreadsheet. Since merged cells have a larger size than regular cells, it’s easy to enter data into the wrong cell, which can cause data integrity issues.

How to Merge Cells in Excel Without Merging Actually Using Center Across Selection Command

Instead of merging cells in Excel, there is an alternative method you can use. It is known as Centering. Instead of merging cells to center text, use the Center Across Selection feature. This feature will center the text across a range of cells, without merging them.

To demonstrate the use of the Center Across Selection feature of Excel, we have taken a dataset named “Employee Information”.

Dataset to Demonstrate the Steps of Center Across Selection

1st Step: Unmerge Merged Cells

In the data table cells B2, C2, D2, E2 & cells B4, C4 & cells D4, E4 are merged separately. So, first, we need to unmerge them. To do that, we need to select the three merged areas together by pressing the CTRL key on the keyboard. Then, under the Home tab, inside the Alignment group click on Merge & Center.

Unmerging Merged Cells

You will be able to unmerge the selected cells.

Unmerged View of Selected Cells

2nd Step: Right Click and Go to Format Cells Window

Following that, select the cells B2, C2, D2, and E2 and right-click on them. From the list, click on Format Cells…

Selecting Format Cells

A Dialogue box Format Cells will appear.

Result After Clicking on Format Cells

3rd Step: Apply Center Across Selection

Consequently, click on Alignment. Then, click on the drop-down icon under Horizontal: Select Center Across Selection and press OK.

Applying Center Across Selection Method to Selected Cells

Alternatively, you can access the Format Cells by clicking on the small arrow icon under the Home tab, inside the Alignment group. And follow the same procedure.

Alternative Approach to Access Format Cells

You will get the following result which exactly looks like the cells are merged. But in reality, they are still individual cells.

Output After Using Center Across Selection Feature

Repeat the same procedure for cells B4, C4 and D4, E4 also. Below is the final output of the data table. The exterior of the data table is exactly like what we desired but no cells are merged.

Final View of Data Table Without Merging

Limitations of Center Across Selection Feature in Excel

However, this feature has certain limitations that can make it less effective in some scenarios. Here are some limitations of the Center Across Selection feature:

Limited to Horizontal Alignment: The Center Across Selection feature can only center text horizontally. If you need to center text vertically, you will need to use a different method, such as adjusting the cell height.

Not Ideal for Large Amounts of Text: If you have a large amount of text to center across multiple cells, there may be better options than the Center Across Selection feature. Selecting each cell individually and applying the centering feature can be time-consuming. In such cases, merging cells or adjusting the column width may be a more efficient solution.

Compatibility Issues: The Center Across Selection feature may not be compatible with older versions of Excel or other spreadsheet programs. If you need to share your spreadsheet with others, it’s important to ensure that the Center Across Selection feature will work properly for all users.

Limited to Text Format Only: The Center Across Selection feature only works for text, and cannot be used to center other types of data, such as numbers or dates.

Formatting Issues: When you use the Center Across Selection feature, Excel treats the cells as separate cells and not merged cells. As a result, when you apply formatting such as borders or background color, it may not look consistent across the cells.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Merge Cells in Excel Without Merging Vertically?
Answer: Merging cells vertically in Excel without actually merging cells is not possible, as there is no built-in feature like the Center Across Selection for vertical alignment. The only way to achieve a similar effect is by using a formula or a function that can concatenate or join the values in multiple cells into one cell.

How to Center Text Vertically in Excel Without Merging Cells?
Answer: Centering text vertically in Excel without merging cells can be a bit tricky, as Excel doesn’t offer a built-in feature for this purpose. However, One way to center text vertically in Excel is by adding padding to the cells. This involves adding spaces before or after the text to move it up or down within the cell. Here’s how to do it:

  • Select the cell or range of cells that you want to center vertically.
  • Right-click and select Format Cells.
  • In the Format Cells dialog box, click on the Alignment
  • Under the Text Control section, add spaces before or after the text in the cell using the “Indent” option. You can use the up or down arrows to adjust the number of spaces to add.
  • Click OK to apply the changes.

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By understanding that merging cells can often be harmful to your dataset and learning the alternative of merging cells in Excel, you can streamline your workflow and create more visually appealing and flexible spreadsheets. In this article, we’ve focused on how to merge cells in Excel without actually merging them by using the center across selection feature.

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Md. Nafis Soumik
Md. Nafis Soumik

Md. Nafis Soumik graduated from Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology, Dhaka, with a BSc.Engg in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering. In January 2023, he joined Softeko as an Excel and VBA content developer, contributing 50+ articles on topics including Data Analysis, Visualization, Pivot Tables, Power Query, and VBA. Soumik participated in 2 specialized training programs on VBA and Chart & Dashboard designing in Excel. During leisure, he enjoys music, travel, and science documentaries, reflecting a diverse range... Read Full Bio

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