Excel provides a neat way to autofit the width of a column using either a mouse double-click or using the built in menus. In this post I will show you how to use the mouse to automatically resize the width of a column so that the contents of the column can be seen in full…
What happens when your Excel Cell Content is too Wide to Fit in the Column?
Here is the scenario. You have a table of contacts that lists names, e-mails and birthdays. You have either imported this list from your e-mail program or perhaps just typed the list into Excel. But as it stands there are two problems:
- Problem 1: You can’t read the values in columns “Company” and “Email” as they are cut off by the values in the cells on their right.
- Problem 2: You can’t see any of the date values in the birthday column because that column is not wide enough – instead all you see is a row of #########
You could try to resize the columns one at a time by clicking and dragging on the column borders between column headers for all 6 columns, but there is an alternative way.
Let me introduce you to a mouse double-click trick that can save you some time. If you want to download the sample .xlsx file with the same final contacts list so you can follow along as you read the post, click on the download icon or click here. The file is very small (12 kb) and also zipped so when you download it you will need to unzip it first.
- Move the mouse pointer to the column border between columns D and E
- The white cross will change to a black cross with arrows pointing left and right
- Double click the left mouse button
- Presto – column D has been autofitted!
You can either repeat this process for each of columns C, D, E, F and G, or you can select all of columns C to G and use the double click trick on any of the columns in your selection.
If you have followed along, you might wonder why I didn’t double click on column B. What happens if you do? The column width gets adjusted to the longest value, which is in row 3. This looks bad as there is too much empty space in column B.
Now let’s go back to the built in menus and use the autofit column width feature. The key to using this feature is to first select the cells you want to autofit. Here we don’t want Excel to resize column B to fit the text in row 2 and row 3, because we only want the column to be just wide enough for the first names in our contact list.
- Select cell B5
- Expand the selection to the current region (using Ctrl + Shift +
- Select the Home tab on the Excel ribbon
- Find the Cells sub-area
- Click on Format
- Click on Autofit Column Width
Read More: Resize & autofit column widths in Excel
Click on one of the following post links to read more on this topic.
- Series Intro: Resize & autofit column widths in Excel
- Part 1, Autofit column widths in Excel using the mouse
- Part 2, Autofit column widths in Excel using the keyboard
- Part 3, How to set precise column widths in Excel
- Part 4, Changing multiple column widths in Excel