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: Repeating Cell Contents.

Repeating Cell Contents

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 25, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Julius is a former Lotus 1-2-3 user. He notes that in that program, if he presses the "\" key and follows it with anything, Lotus will repeat what he types to fill the entire cell. For example, if he types \12345, Lotus will show 123451234512345..., regardless of the width of the cell. Julius is wondering how to do the same in Excel.

There are a couple of ways you can do this one is with a formula, using the REPT worksheet function:

=REPT(12345,10)

This formula repeats the text "12345" ten times. This approach works well if you know exactly how many times you want to repeat the text, but not so well if you don't. This leads to the second approach, which is to use formatting for the cell. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or cells you want to format.
  2. Select 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. Using the Horizontal drop-down list, choose Fill.
  6. Click OK.

The result is that the cell formatting in this way will repeat whatever it contains as many times as it can fit that result into the cell. If the cell is not wide enough to display even one occurrence of the result, then you will see the familiar #### markers. The cell will only display entire occurrences of the result, not partial occurrences. Thus, it will display "1234512345," but not "1234512345123."

If you later want the cell to behave as normal, simply change the formatting to normal by following the same steps and choosing a different alignment setting in the Alignment tab of the dialog box.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3214) 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: Repeating 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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