If you’ve ever tried to type a lot of information into one cell, you know that it can get pretty hard to read. This is because Excel uses standardized cell heights and widths to keep everything uniform. But when you want to type out information that exceeds the usual width of a cell, you realize that a lot of what you typed gets cut off in the process. Fortunately, the Wrap Text feature is a quick and easy solution that can make your data much, much easier to read.
So, how does the Wrap Text feature work? Does it automatically adjust to fit the needs of your dataset? Is there an easy way to unwrap text in Excel? Finally, where can you get help with Excel from trained IT experts?
In today’s guide, we will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s examine exactly what we mean when we say “Wrap Text.”
What Is Wrap Text In Excel?
To make the rest of this guide easier to understand, it’s important to learn how Excel refers to the Wrap Text function. Wrapping text is an action that you can do in Excel. When you “wrap text,” you are simply telling Excel to stop writing text only in a straight line from left to right. Instead, you’re telling Excel to add line breaks and format the text so that it will adjust the height of the row you’re writing in to make all of the text visible.
For example, maybe you need to type the full names and occupations of different individuals into various cells. Let’s say that the first two people are Sam Jenkins (Computer Engineer) and Candice Pitt (Data Entry Specialist). Without Wrap Text, it may look like this as soon as you click away from the cells:
|Sam Jenkins, Comp
|Candice Pitt, Data E
It looks like this because Excel continues to format the text horizontally, with the rest of the information disappearing as soon as the edge of the column has been reached. You can always adjust the width of the column, but this may not be very practical, especially if there is a lot of text in a given cell. This is why the Wrap Text function is so useful.
If you choose to wrap the text, Excel will know to adjust the height of the row based on the amount of text you use and add line breaks whenever the text reaches the edge of the cell. As a result, you’re spreadsheet will look more like this:
|Sam Jenkins, Computer Engineer
|Candice Pitt, Data Entry Specialist
As you can see, the only thing that has changed is the height of the rows. The Wrap Text function ensures that you can read the entirety of the text without having to click on an individual cell. In some cases, you may still need to adjust the width of a column, but we will cover this issue a little later on in the guide.
How To Wrap Text In Excel
There are a few different ways you can go about wrapping text in Excel. Remember, you’re just telling Excel to allow for multiple lines within the same cell, thereby making the entire row “taller” and ensuring that your text remains visible. The simplest way to do this is to enable the Wrap Text function from the Home tab. To do this, you just need to follow these steps:
- Select the cell (or cells) that you want to reformat
- Click on the Home tab
- Under the Home tab, find the Wrap Text button in the Alignment section
- Click “Wrap Text”
And that’s it! Now, the selected cell will be formatted so its height is determined by the length of the text. However, if the text forces the cell to be extremely tall, you may still choose to widen your column (by clicking and dragging). This will reduce the height of your column without hiding any of the text.
If you want a slightly faster way to wrap text in Excel, you can use the keyboard shortcut. Simply select the cell you want to format and then press Alt + H + W.
We’ve already covered some of the quickest and easiest ways to wrap text, but they are not the only solutions. If you’re willing to take a little more time to do it, the format cells dialog box can give you a bit more control over the process. For example, if you want to use the Wrap Text function, but you also want to instruct Excel on how to align your text, this may be the best option.
To wrap text using the format cells dialog box, just follow these steps:
- Right-click on the cell (or cells) you want to reformat
- Select “Format Cells” from the menu
- In the Format Cells dialog box, navigate to the Alignment tab
- Check the box for “Wrap Text” (in the Text Control section)
- (Optional) Make any other formatting changes as needed
- Click “OK” to finalize the change
Adjust Row Height
If you choose not to use the Wrap Text function, you’ll often see that Excel does not format the height of your cells perfectly. You may find that there is either a lot of empty and unnecessary space below your text or the cell is still too “short” to make all of the text visible. To fix these issues, you can manually click and drag the row to make it larger or smaller.
But this still means you’ll have to make changes for each and every cell that contains a lot of information. To save time, you can automate this process so that Excel will always adjust the row height to meet the needs of your text. To automatically adjust row height in Excel, you’ll need to follow these steps:
- Go to the Home tab
- Click on “Format”
- Choose “AutoFit Row Height”
Now, Excel will know to automatically adjust your row height whenever the text exceeds the width of the corresponding column.
Add Line Breaks
Finally, you do have one more way to wrap text in a cell without asking Excel to do anything out of the ordinary. If you don’t mind doing it manually, you can simply add line breaks into the cell you want to reformat. To do this, you have to click on the place where you want to add a line break and then press ALT + ENTER. Now, the rest of your text will be moved to a second line.
You may need to repeat this step multiple times until all of the text is visible and formatted correctly. But keep in mind that this method is just a more tedious version of using the built-in Wrap Text function. When you choose to wrap text, Excel automatically adds line breaks and adjusts the height of the row accordingly. The only potential advantage of doing it manually is choosing exactly where you want the line breaks to appear for aesthetic reasons.
How To Unwrap Text In Excel
To unwrap text in Excel, you have a few different options:
- Click “Wrap Text” from the Home tab
- Uncheck the “Wrap Text” box in the Format Cells dialog box
- Use the keyboard shortcut Alt + H + W
If you’ve added line breaks manually, the process is a bit more complicated. None of the methods above will work because you have not technically used the Wrap Text function. To get rid of these line breaks, you’ll need to follow these steps:
- Open the “Find and Replace” feature (shortcut: CTRL + H)
- In the “Find What” box, enter CTRL + J to signify a line break
- Leave the “Replace With” box empty
- Click “Replace All”
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