Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. 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

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 18, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


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.
  7. Click on OK.

Note in step 4 that you can also choose Distributed (Indent) if you want to indent the same number of characters from both the left and the right.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6120) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. 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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