13. Formatting Cells Part 2


In the second lesson on formatting cells, we focus on text alignment, as well as showing you how to wrap and merge text.

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  1. Text Alignment (00:04)

    By default, text is aligned on the left of a cell, and values are aligned on the right. It’s best to stick to this convention. As a result, you won’t often use alignment commands in Excel.

    The most common alignment command is merging and centering. This is often used to create a header that spans several columns. To Merge and Center, you select the cells to be merged, and use the shortcut Alt, H, M, C. To unmerge a cell, you select it, then use the shortcut Alt, H, M, U.

    An alternative method of formatting text across multiple cells is Center Across Selection. This centers text across multiple cells without merging the cells into one. To use this option, open the Format Cells window with Ctrl + 1, select the alignment tab, and adjust the horizontal alignment to Center Across Selection.

    You can merge cells across a row or a column. If you merge cells in a column, you may find that the text does not fit the cell. This problem can be solved by using Wrap Text, with the shortcut Alt, H, W. This spreads text over multiple lines, allowing it to fit into the cell without needing to expand the column width.


In the previous lesson we learned how to format cells in Excel. In this lesson we'll learn how to format the text within these cells.

In this second lesson on cell formatting we're going to focus on the alignment of text within a cell.

As I mentioned in the previous lesson text automatically aligns on the left of a cell and numbers on the right. Although you can change this manually using the alignment commands I never recommend doing so because the default alignment has become standard among the Excel community. As a result we'll rarely change the alignment of cells within a data set. However, this can change when we're performing calculations, say in a model.

In this new Excel sheet I have a sensitivity table of output revenue from an airline. Above the top row I'd like to include a heading called the booking limit and to the left of the column values I'd like to include an access label called flights canceled.

Let's start with the booking limit heading. I'd like to place the booking limit heading midway between the six values I have shown on the screen. To do this we select the six cells above these six values then Alt HMC to merge and center.

This looks much better than my previous solution.

Merge and center is probably the most common command you'll use with regard to alignment in Excel. To unmerge a cell, simply return to that cell and Alt HMU.

I'll merge and center again with Alt HMC.

Now let's move on to our second task with flights canceled next to the Y axis. So I'll start by typing flights canceled and unfortunately this text won't fit within the cell. If I select the next five cells and Alt HMC to merge and center, this doesn't solve the problem. However, if I wrap text by moving the canceled word onto the next row with Alt HW, now I have the cells merged and centered and the label appearing correctly. When you need to include a lot of text within a cell and as a result you have some text onto the next line, wrapping text is a good solution.

Apart from merge and center and wrapping text I rarely perform alignment commands in Excel.

However, if you do want to explore additional alignment functionality just go to the format sales dialogue box and go to the alignment tab where you can see many more alignment options.