Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Indenting Cell Contents.

Indenting Cell Contents

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 18, 2018)

5

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. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the small icon at the lower-right of the Alignment group. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box with the Alignment tab 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) or Right (Indent), depending on whether you want to indent from the left or right.
  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. 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 (6120) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel 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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What is three minus 3?

2018-09-18 10:10:26

Henry Noble

Good instructions, but sometimes another approach may save time and eliminate the need for special cell-level formatting.

When appropriate to the task, say an income-expense worksheet, add additional tiny columns to the right of the primary one. Set the new column width to 1 or 2 for a nice indent. Put the subordinate items in an indented column. Because Excel ignores empty columns when displaying text, the extra columns will not truncate what is in the primary column.


2018-09-18 07:22:16

Willy Vanhaelen

There are also two indent buttons in the Alignment section of the Home ribbon tab. One to inrease the indent (Alt+Ctrl+Tab) and one to decrease it (Alt+Ctrl+Shift+Tab). If no indent has been applied yet, left indent is the default.


2015-11-10 09:02:12

Marcus Lang

Thanks Glenn

I used your version and it was really easy to make it work.

Regards,


2015-06-15 05:50:13

Alan Pink

You say, "Note in step 4 that you can choose either a left or right indent. 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."
Excel 2010 has an option, Distributed (Indent) that applies the same indent to left and right simultaneously.


2014-11-11 09:02:37

Glenn Case

Okay, I'm continually amazed at what I don't know about Excel even after several years of working with it. I have always just added spaces to indent, which is not efficient, and which creates "untrimmed" text. Thanks for the tip!

I have used this to create a quick macro so I can assign a button to my QAT to do this with a single click. Here it is:

Sub Indent()
With Selection
.IndentLevel = 2
End With
End Sub

Be aware that if you do this with a macro, you can't undo it with Undo. You can, however, use an UnIndent macro to do that:

Sub UnIndent()
With Selection
.IndentLevel = 0
End With
End Sub


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