While creating reports, summary tables, or dashboards, or even when you’re just utilizing worksheets to store and calculate data, you need to adjust column width regularly. You can resize columns with the mouse, set the width to a specific number, or have it modified automatically to accommodate the data in Microsoft Excel. In this quick tutorial, you’ll learn how to adjust the column width in Excel manually and have it automatically changed to fit the contents.
Basic Concept to Adjust Column Width in Excel
There are a variety of ways to increase the width of Excel’s columns. In Excel, the minimum and maximum width values are 0 and 255. Column width is set at 8.43 by default. Based on these minimum, maximum, and default values, you can establish a column width range.
The column width in Excel does not automatically change if the data you enter in the cell is too large to fit in the column. Either it will overlap the next cell or it will spread beyond the cell border.
Note: If a column’s width is set to zero (0), it is considered hidden.
How to Adjust Column Width in Excel (7 Simple Ways)
1. Use Mouse to Adjust Column Width in Excel for a Single Column
Dragging the column header’s border to the right or left is the most common and easiest approach to changing the width of a column. You can change one or more columns.
Here, a data set of some worldwide popular books with millions of sales is shown. However, the default column width is not enough to accommodate it in a single cell. Therefore, we need to change the column width.
Follow the steps below to manually adjust the column width.
- Place your mouse pointer on the column header’s right side.
- Hold and drag the adjustment tool right to the desired width, then release the mouse button.
- The width has now been adjusted, as you can see. The screenshot below will help you to show how the column width has been changed.
Note: If the column on the right contains data, the large text string can be turned into hash symbols (######).
2. Use Mouse to Adjust Column Width in Excel for Multiple Columns
In the following example, you can see the width of all columns is too small, and the text of the columns extends over the cell boundary. As a result, you’ll need to adjust the width of each column in this table.
To adjust the width of multiple columns, follow the steps below.
- Select the columns you need to adjust.
- Hold and drag to adjust.
As you can see, the width has been adjusted, and the text is now clearly visible. The screenshot below will help you better understand.
Note: If you want all of your cells to be the same height and width, hit Ctrl + A and drag them.
3. Insert a Custom Number to Adjust Column Width in Excel
You can change the column width numerically rather than moving the column header. The column width will adjust based on the number of values entered in the Column Width once you specify the value.
To resize columns numerically, do the following to specify the average amount of characters to be displayed in a cell.
- Select one or more columns for which you want to change the column width.
- Then select Home → Format →Column Width.
- A dialog box will appear to enter the size for the column width. Set the value as you desire and click OK.
The column width will be set to 36.00 once you click OK. The change in column width is displayed in the image below.
Note: you can also open the column width dialog box by right-clicking the column and selecting Column Width from the menu.
4. Apply AutoFit to Adjust Column Width in Excel
As you can see, the column width value is small here, and the text is not well presented. You can adjust it by double-clicking the cursor at the top of the column to modify it. On the other way, by using AutoFit, you can change the column width.
- Click the column headers to select the columns.
- Go to Home Tab → Format → AutoFit Column Width.
Therefore, using AutoFit, the data entered in the cell will alter the width of the column to fit the maximum number.
Note: The shortcut key for AutoFit column width: Alt + H + O + I
5. Add Different Column Width Units in Excel
You may want to fix the column width in inches, centimeters, or millimeters when creating a worksheet for printing.
Here, in the following example, we will show how to adjust column width by inches. To have it done, follow the steps below.
- Go to the View tab → click the Page Layout button:
- Drag the right border of any of the selected column heads until the desired width is reached.
As you drag the boundary, Excel will display the column width in inches. Now, you can see the displayed unit in the below image.
After adjusting the required width, you can dismiss the Page Layout view by clicking the Normal button on the View tab.
The default ruler unit in Excel’s English localization is inches. To change the units into other units, follow these simple steps:
- Click File → Options → Advanced.
- Scroll down to the Display section and select the desired unit from the Ruler Units drop-down list.
- Click OK to save the changes.
6. Copy Column Width in Excel
You can simply copy the width of one column to other columns if you’ve already resized it to your preference. To do so, follow the steps described below.
- Copy the column you want to duplicate.
- Go to the cell you want to paste.
- Click Paste Special.
- Select Column widths.
- Click OK.
As a result, You will see that cells will display according to the previous column width.
- Press Enter to see the result.
7. Change the Default Column Width in Excel
While working with a large data set, you may need to adjust the column width for the whole data set. Simply do the following to change the default width for all columns on a worksheet or the entire workbook.
- Select the cells or worksheet(s) of interest.
- Go to the Home tab, in the Cells group, and click Format → Default Width.
- Enter the value you desire in the standard column width box and click OK.
- Therefore, you will see all the existing columns will be set to a default column width.
Download Practice Workbook
Download this practice workbook to exercise while you are reading this article.
To conclude, I hope this article has provided detailed guidance to adjust column width in Excel. As you can see, there are several options for changing column width in Excel. Which one you should choose is determined by your preferred working style and the circumstances. All of these procedures should be learned and applied to your dataset. Take a look at the practice workbook and put these skills to the test. We’re motivated to keep making tutorials like this because of your valuable support.
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How to Change Column Width in Excel: Knowledge Hub
- Set Column Width in Inches in Excel
- Set Excel Column Width to cm Unit
- Change Excel Column Width in Pixels
- Change Column Width in mm in Excel