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Changing Character Spacing

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Changing Character Spacing.

Alfred wonders if there is a way to increase spacing between characters in a cell. He is not talking about spacing between cells, but between characters in a single cell.

The short answer is that you can't do this. Word lets you adjust this type of spacing, but Excel does not. For that reason, you may want to import your Excel data into Word as a table and make the advanced character formatting changes there.

If that is not possible, then the only thing you can do in Excel is try to apply a few workarounds. One such workaround is to play with the font used for your characters. You might try different fonts that use different character spacing; this could take quite a bit of trial and error to find the font that is right for your needs.

Another possible approach is to use different, contrasting fonts within a cell. For instance, if you alternate the formatting of sequential characters between Arial and Arial Narrow, you may end up with the spacing you want.

The only other option is to add characters between existing cell characters. For instance, you could add a space between each character in the cell and then format those spaces to a font size that gives the desired overall appearance. You could also insert thin spaces, which is done using the Symbol dialog box.

Remember that when you insert extra spaces between characters in a cell, it changes what is actually stored in a cell. Thus, your numeric values will start being treated as text by Excel and formulas that rely upon a certain character sequence will no longer work (because you've changed the sequence of the characters in the cell).

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12473) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Changing Character Spacing.

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