12. Formatting Cells Part 2

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

Lesson Notes

Alignment in cells

- By default, TEXT is aligned on the left and VALUES on the right
- I recommend staying with this convention if at all possible
- As a result, I rarely use alignment commands in Excel
- Merge & Center and Wrap Text are the two alignment commands I use most often

Useful keyboard shortcuts: Alignment

ALT + H, W: Wrap text
ALT + H, M, C: Merge & center
ALT + H, M, U: Unmerge 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 a 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 rarely change the alignment of cells within a data set. However, this can change when we are 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 cancelled. Let's start with the Booking limit heading. I'd like to place the Booking limit heading midway between the six values I have showing on the screen. To do this, we select the six cells above these six values, then Alt + H M C to merge and center, and this looks much better than my previous solution. Merge and center is probably the most common command you will use with regard to alignment in Excel.

To unmerge a cell, simply return to that cell, and Alt + H M U.

I'll merge and center again with Alt + H M C. Now let's move onto our second task and put Flights cancelled next to the Y axis. So I'll start by typing Flights cancelled, and unfortunately this text won't fit within the cell.

If I select the next five cells and Alt + H M C to merge and center, this doesn't solve the problem. However, if I wrap text by moving the cancelled word onto the next row with Alt + H W, 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 move some text onto the next line, wrapping text is a good solution. Apart from merging, 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 cells dialogue box, and go to the alignment tab where you can see many more alignment options.