8. Adjusting Columns and Rows


To make your datasets more readable, it's often necessary to change column width and row height. Let's do this with a few straightforward keyboard shortcuts.

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  1. Adjusting Column Widths (00:22)

    The default common widths in Excel are often too narrow. The best way to deal with this is using the autofit column command. To use this column, you select a column, and use the shortcut Alt, O, C, A. This extends the column width so you can see the text in full. You can also use this command on multiple columns at once, to autofit all the columns in your data set in one command.
    Alternatively, you can manually select the width of a column. To do this, select the column, press Alt, O, C, W, and select the desired width.

  2. Adjusting Row Heights (02:26)

    Row heights can be adjusted automatically or manually. To autofit row heights, you select the rows to be adjusted, and use the command Alt, O, R, A. To adjust row heights manually, select the rows, use the shortcut Right Mouse Button, R, and enter the desired row height.
    You don’t often need to autofit row heights, but manually adjusting them can make data more readable.


In the previous lesson, we learned how to add, edit and remove rows and columns from our data set. As a result, we now have a clean set of sales entries, but not necessarily a very readable one. In this lesson, we're going to make our data set more readable by learning how to adjust column width and and row height.

Our biggest problem is that it's hard to read the column headings because the column widths are too narrow. This is a common problem in Excel, and you might often see data sets where a user has manually dragged the width of a column by hovering the mouse between two columns like this, holding the mouse and dragging.

A much better way of leading this task is to use the Autofit column command, and of course, we have a shortcut for this Alt/OCA. I'm going to demonstrate this by first undoing the change I made earlier with Ctrl Z, then navigating to the E column, selecting it with Ctrl/Space bar and then performing Alt/OCA.

And you can see that this automatically extends the column so that the full heading order/quantity can be seen. We can even perform Alt/OCA on multiple columns at the same time. Let's scroll to column H and select it with Ctrl /Space bar and then holding Ctrl/Shift and the left arrow, let's elect the remaining columns in the data set.

We'll then perform Alt/OCA.

And this order fits all the columns in our data set.

Alt/OCA is a great time saving shortcut. When I first access a data sheet, I will always Autofit every column before performing any other task.

When formatting columns, I tend to just use Alt/OCA, but sometimes you might want to manually choose the width of a column. To do this, simply select the column, in this case, the Address column and press Alt/OCW.

I'll type in 60, press OK, and you can see how this widens the column. I'll undo with Ctrl/Z.

Now that we know how to adjust column width let's move on to row height. Rows typically don't create the same Autofit problems that columns do because most data sets do not have texts on multiple lines.

However, if you do run into this problem the shortcut Alt/ORA will Autofit row height.

While you might not use Autofit commands for rows, you may often want to manually change the row height to make data more readable. In this example, let's increase the height of each data row by a couple of points and see the effect. First, let's select the top row with Shift/Space bar.

We'll then select all the rows in the data set by holding Ctrl/Shift, and pressing the down arrow key.

We'll then press the right mouse button, then R to select the row height and we'll adjust the row height to 18.

By pressing the undo and redo command, you can see how increasing the row height can make your data much more readable.

As with most commands in Excel, it's tempting to use the mouse to us row and column dimensions, but hopefully this lesson has shown you how easy it is to Autofit columns and increase row height using a few simple shortcut commands.