Making Squares

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 15, 2014)

One of the (many) frustrating things about Excel is that it uses different units of measurement to specify the height of rows and the width of columns.

Row height is pretty straightforward—it is measured in points. Column width, however, is measured in character widths. If your Standard style is set to Courier 10, then a column width of 12 means that you can fit exactly twelve characters in a given column. For proportional fonts, the character 0 is used to count the characters. (Yup, it's absurd.)

This leads to problems if you want the height and width of a particular cell to match, thereby making a square. Fortunately, with a little macro wizardry you can bypass this oddity of Excel and achieve the desired results. Consider the MakeSquare macro:

Sub MakeSquare()
    Dim WPChar As Double
    Dim DInch As Double
    Dim Temp As String
    
    Temp = InputBox("Height and width in inches?")
    DInch = Val(Temp)
    If DInch > 0 And DInch < 2.5 Then
        For Each c In ActiveWindow.RangeSelection.Columns
            WPChar = c.Width / c.ColumnWidth
            c.ColumnWidth = ((DInch * 72) / WPChar)
        Next c
        For Each r In ActiveWindow.RangeSelection.Rows
            r.RowHeight = (DInch * 72)
        Next r
    End If
End Sub

This macro prompts you for the dimension of the square you want to create, and then calculates exactly how wide and high to set each cell. You can run the macro with a single cell selected, or you can make a larger selection set.

The "math magic" is done in the calculating of the WPChar variable. This is set to a value derived by dividing the width of the column in points (returned by the Width property) by the width of the column in characters (returned by the ColumnWidth property). This value, which is the number of points in a character at the current settings, is then used to calculate how many characters should be used to set the width in the next program line.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (1943) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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