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: Understanding Cell Indenting.

Understanding Cell Indenting

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 11, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


When you think of indenting information, you normally think of a word processor. It is not unusual to indent paragraphs or specific lines of information on the screen. Excel, while definitely not a word processor, allows you to easily indent information within a cell.

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. Using the Indent control, specify the number of characters by which the cell contents should be indented. You can pick any whole number between 0 and 15.
  6. Click on OK.

Each number of indent moves the contents of the cell about one character width to the right. (There goes that strange character measurement system in Excel again.) You can also control the indentation of cell contents by using the two indent tools on the Formatting toolbar. Each click of a tool moves the cell contents one position to the left or right.

If you have set up a cell so that text wraps within the cell, then indentation affects all the lines of text within the cell—not just the first line.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3270) 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: Understanding Cell Indenting.

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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