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

Filling a Cell

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 22, 2020)

4

There may be times when you need to fill a cell with a particular character or group of characters. For instance, you may need to fill a cell with the characters " Enter MPG " (with the spaces) for the entire width of the cell. Excel allows you to do this very easily. It repeats the characters over and over again, regardless of the cell width. To utilize this feature, follow these steps:

  1. Type the characters that you want repeated in the cell.
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. In the lower-right corner of the Alignment group, click the small icon. Excel displays the Alignment tab of the Format Cells dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Alignment tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  5. Use the Horizontal drop-down list to select the Fill option.
  6. Click on OK.

Excel repeats whatever you typed in the cell, until the entire cell is filled. For instance, if you typed two characters, then those two characters are repeated over the width of the cell.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6254) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Filling a Cell.

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 five minus 3?

2015-11-03 09:21:27

Jennifer Thomas

Thanks, Allen - I appreciate the history on this.

Ian - cell overflow into adjacent blank columns is built into Excel; common workarounds include adding a column to the right that is filled with spaces (that cuts off the overflow and you can make the column very narrow) or formatting the column right-aligned (assuming there is data in the column at left, otherwise it just overflows the other way).


2015-11-02 13:16:51

Ian M. Clark

this operation fills the cell in question and every non-blank space to the right as well. If only one cell is to be filled and so displayed, the cell to its right must be non-blank.
Would be useful to know how to fill a cell and only that cell, e.g. as the / command in Lotus123 did.
Ian


2015-11-02 12:18:02

awyatt

Jennifer: This is a capability that has its roots in the very early days of Excel. It was a feature that was available in Lotus 1-2-3, IIRC, and so it made its way to Excel.

In those early days when most things were text-based, this type of capability was used to fill a cell with a dash (-) or an equal sign(=). In that way, the cell could act as a "border" between groups of numbers or between headings and the numbers under those headings.

With the advent of actual formatting, which has now been available in Excel for years and years, the usefulness of this capability is obviously lessened.

I think it still has some usability, however, if you want to fill a cell with a "directive" to the user as to what should be entered in the cell. For instance, you could fill it with the text " Enter MPG " (with the spaces) if you wanted the user to enter a "miles per gallon" figure. That way, no matter how wide the user made the column, it would always be filled with that text.

-Allen


2015-11-02 12:10:12

Jennifer Thomas

Can anyone provide a practical application for this? Normally the scenario introduces the task description, bit not this time.

It seems like it could be cool, but I can't think of what you would type that would be need to be endlessly repeated ... thanks in advance for sharing your experience!


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