How to Resize & Autofit Column Widths in Microsoft Excel (Series Introduction)

 In Excel Tips

Excel Shortcuts with Launch ExcelChanging the size of column widths is one of the most common day-to-day tasks that you’ll find yourself performing if you design Excel reports or dashboards, or even if you just use Excel for data entry.

If you have struggled to resize all of the columns in an Excel spreadsheet one-by-one, then read on and struggle no more…

Introduction to Series on how to Resize & Autofit Columns

In this series of articles, we look at efficient ways to change column width.

Most of the time you’ll want the information in individual cells to be readable, but when data in a cell exceeds the cell width and the cell directly on the right also has data in it, Excel will cut off the cell’s content making it unreadable.

Also if you have a date value in a cell but the column is not wide enough, all you will see is ########.

Problem Picture

What happens when column widths are too narrow

It’s OK to resize the columns one at a time by if you click on the column border between columns A and B, then you drag the mouse pointer to the right until all of the data in column A is visible.

Below is an animation to show how to resize columns this way.

Animation showing how to resize columns one by one

How to resize columns one by one using the mouse to drag column borders

As you can see it works and is quite intuitive when you get the hang of dragging column borders, but it is slow and labor-intensive.

There are faster ways to resize columns to fit the contents especially if you have lots of columns to resize, and these are covered in the next articles in this series.

Read more: Resize & Autofit Column Widths in Excel

Click on one of the following links to learn different ways to resize and autofit column widths in Excel. Each method will serve you in different situations, so learn them all if you want a collection of tools at your disposal. My personal favorite is to autofit columns using keyboard shortcuts because it’s very fast and usually accurate, but of course it needs the keystrokes to be memorized (see Part 2.)

Victor Chan
Victor has been using Excel intensively since 2002. He is a Chartered Accountant (Fellow of the ICAEW) and has an MEng in Manufacturing Engineering from the University of Cambridge. He is on a mission to help you learn Excel and VBA with practical video tutorials and awesome online courses.
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