Making Squares

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 15, 2014)

2

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Changing Table Cell Text Direction

When creating a table, you can turn the orientation of the text, within a cell, by ninety degrees in either direction from ...

Discover More

Excluding Zero Values from a PivotTable

If you are using a data set that includes a number of zero values, you may not want those values to appear in a PivotTable ...

Discover More

Copying to Very Large Ranges

Using the mouse to select a large cell range can be frustratingly slow. If you want to make copying to a large range of cells ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

MORE EXCELTIPS (MENU)

Decimal Tab Alignment

If you are familiar with decimal tabs in Word, you may wonder if you can set the same sort of alignment in Excel. The short ...

Discover More

Indenting Cell Contents

Excel allows you to apply several types of alignments to cells. One type of alignment allows you to indent cell contents from ...

Discover More

Underlining Text in Cells

Want a quick way to add some underlines to your cell values? It's easy using the shortcuts provided in this tip.

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments for this tip:

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is three minus 1?

2014-11-17 12:16:25

Kelly Runyon

Ray, thanks for the caution. If you need a workaround, try selecting just one cell, then use the resulting height & width values to set the other columns and rows.


2014-11-15 06:58:29

Ray Austin

If you select the whole sheet this macro runs forever


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.

Links and Sharing