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: Character Limits for Cells.

Character Limits for Cells

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 23, 2016)

2

Carolyn describes a situation in which a coworker has a worksheet with large amounts of text in several cells. A few cells will not display all the text even with text wrapping and a smaller font selected.

This is to be expected, because in Excel there are two separate limitations at play: a limit on what can be entered in a cell and a limit on what can be displayed. In most cases, the limit on what can be entered in a cell is not a real issue; Excel allows you to enter up to 32,767 characters in each cell. All of these characters will show up in the Formula bar just fine.

The problem comes with the display limitation. There is a limit that Excel will display only the first 1,024 characters in each cell. In other words, if there is anything more than this in a cell (which could be likely in some circumstances), then it won't display; Excel pretends like it isn't even there. You can't get around this limit by changing fonts, cell sizes, wrapping status, or anything else.

There are a couple of ways that you might find acceptable as workarounds. You could, for instance, insert the lengthy text selections into text boxes rather than into cells. The text boxes don't have the same display limit, and you can format the contents in any way desired.

Another approach is to actually add the long information to a Word document, copy it, and then paste it into Excel (using Paste Special) as a Word object. You'll need to play with the formatting to make sure the text appears as you want, but this may suffice.

Both of these approaches involve getting the text out of the cells and placing it in a different object that can handle the longer text. A different approach is to simply upgrade your version of Excel. In later versions of Excel (after Excel 2003) Microsoft changed the display limits to match those of the cell entry limits. In other words, you can enter and display up to 32,767 characters in later versions of Excel.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3163) 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: Character Limits for Cells.

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

Understanding and Creating Lists

There are two types of common lists you can use in a document: bulleted lists and numbered lists. This tip explains the ...

Discover More

Turning Off AutoFill for a Workbook

Don't want people using your workbook to be able to use AutoFill? You can add two quick macros that disable and enable the ...

Discover More

Specifying Superscript Text

Applying different formatting to the text within a cell can seem a bit confusing. This is certainly the case when it comes to ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Turning Off AutoFill for a Workbook

Don't want people using your workbook to be able to use AutoFill? You can add two quick macros that disable and enable the ...

Discover More

Combining Columns

Need to concatenate the contents in a number of columns so that it appears in a single column? Excel has no intrinsic way to ...

Discover More

A Fast Find-Next

Tired of the Find and Replace dialog box blocking the view of your worksheet when you are searching for information? Do what ...

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

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 six more than 8?

2016-05-11 18:50:04

Cadeau

Thank you!


2016-01-23 23:25:33

Pete

They other (pseudo) limitation is the maximum displayed size of a single cell. On Excel 2013 that is 545 pixels high x 1789 pixels wide (on my laptop, at least).

Merging adjacent cells overcomes this to some extent but there may be reasons why the user cannot work with merged cells.

But for all practical purposes this limitation doesn't affect the user much.


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.