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: Indenting Cell Contents.

Indenting Cell Contents

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 14, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Excel allows you to format the contents of a cell in a myriad of ways. One of the formatting options you can apply is to indent the contents of a cell by a certain amount. This is similar to indenting done in a word processor, such as Microsoft Word, except that the indenting is specified in a number of characters, not in a linear distance such as inches or points.

To set the indent to be used in a cell, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cells you want to format.
  2. Choose Cells from the Format menu. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Alignment tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Alignment tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  5. In the Horizontal drop-down list, choose Left (Indent). If you are using Excel 2002 or 2003, you can also choose Right (Indent).
  6. Using the Indent control, specify the number of characters by which the cell contents should be indented from either the left or right side of the cell. You can pick any whole number between 0 and 15.
  7. Click on OK.

Note in step 4 that you can choose either a left or right indent if you are using Excel 2002 or Excel 2003. You cannot, however, indent from both the left and right, like you can with a word processor. You can only choose to indent from the left or the right.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2948) 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: Indenting Cell Contents.

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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