Two Lines, No Waiting

When you enter a long bit of text into a cell, it will spill over into the next cell (provided the next cell is empty). Sometimes, this can be exactly what you want. If, however, the text you are entering is a column heading, the spill over can make it confusing.

In the Format Cells dialog (Format>Cells), there is an option to Wrap Text. You’ll find it on the Alignment tab.


With Wrap Text checked, Excel will find a natural place to break the text and increase the row height to boot. An example of what this might look like is below.


As you can see, just because Excel finds a natural split doesn’t make it right. In the above example, it would look nicer if “(in thousands)” was all on one line. You can force a line break by using ALT+ENTER (hold down the Alt key while pressing Enter) when your cursor is in the position where you want the break. By placing the cursor just before the opening paren and pressing ALT+ENTER, the following result can be achieved


9 thoughts on “Two Lines, No Waiting

  1. I have tried to teach this tip of the day to my co-workers many times to no avail. One of my pet peeves is having to clean up after people who make column headings in row 1, 2 and 3 etc instead of wrapping text. I have to do this 4 time a week at least. I always wonder if it is easier to concatenate the rows or re-type. Often it’s a toss up.

    Thanks for listening.

  2. Wendy: You know, JWalk should add that to his PUP utilities. It would be easy to write and pretty darn useful.

  3. My question is, if your text line is *really* long and spills over the page margin, how do you make it fit on the page (in two or three lines of text) without wrapping all the text into one very tall cell (i.e. a narrow column)? I haven’t been able to find out how to do this and it’s driving me crazy. Any ideas? Thanks, and since I am a beginner, I need very specific info.

  4. 1, How can incerse rows & column in ms excel thanx for help

    2, how can enter capital word without caps lock on

  5. @ Farhan

    1. The row and column count are fixed. No increases or decreases without upgrading the XL release you are on. You can hide rows and columns to present a smaller worksheet, or do the same through restricting the scroll area of a worksheet. Without defining the scroll area through VBA, you can do this in the properties dialog box when the worksheet is the active object. I’m going to assume you are not using 2007, as it has more rows and columns than are easily exhausted. If your issue is data storage, consider putting the data in a database and use XL to import only what you need at the time.

    2. No soap here either. However, you can enter text, say in C4, and then reference that cell with the formula =Upper(C4). Or, you can use one of the many operations in John Walkenbach’s Power Utility Pak to change a cell or range of cells to upper case. I think it is fun to learn VBA and roll your own text manipulation subroutines. I’m a fan of thick Excel books and visiting sites like this one regularly. Also, if you search the ‘net, I think you’ll find that just about every question has been asked and answered.

    Keep XLer8ing,

  6. This doesn’t work on Macs, any suggestions? When I press alt + enter, it just goes enter to the next cell.

    This is kind of killing me and killing time.

  7. Another way to roll over to the next line as a whole is to use a non-breaking space between the words “in” and “thousands”
    From the Insert menu, choose Symbol, Special Characters, Nonbreaking Space.

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