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Changing Column Width

It is a rare worksheet in which each column of data is the same width as every other column. Fortunately, Excel allows you to independently adjust column width for each column in your worksheet. The quickest way to do this is to use the mouse in the following manner:

  1. Move the mouse so it is over the dividing line between two columns in the column headings area of the worksheet. Choose the dividing line that is to the right of the column whose width you want to adjust. The mouse cursor changes to a double-headed arrow.
  2. Click and hold the left mouse button.
  3. Drag the mouse left or right until the column is the desired width.
  4. Release the mouse button.

You can also automatically adjust the width of a column to match the width of the longest cell contents in the column by double-clicking on the dividing line between columns.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (1936) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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Comments for this tip:

1695814    27 Apr 2015, 10:09
If you are averse to the mouse, alt-o-c-a (alt-fOrmat-Column-Autofit) will set the width for the selected cell(s).

If you want to quickly select the entire column, use ctrl-space bar, then alt-o-c-a to set the width. (Shift-space bar selects the entire row.)
Richard Finlinson    25 Apr 2015, 05:20
Double clicking to automatically determine the column width is a very useful feature as it adjusts to fit the widest entry in the column. It is therefore best to do this once all data has been entered to avoid the need to do it multiple times. It should be noted that changing a column heading to Bold, for instance, will increase the width required. Particular attention should be paid to column A, where this will not necessarily work. Titles etc. are frequently entered in column A and then centralised, so that they no longer appear to be in column A. Using this feature on column A, therefore, will calculate width requirement including the titles, which may well be greatly in excess of the widest data in that column.

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