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: Understanding Cell Indenting.

Understanding Cell Indenting

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 20, 2017)

3

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, display the Home tab of the ribbon. Note that there are two indent tools in the Alignment group. Clicking these two tools will move the indent of the cell either to the right or back toward the left.

If you want even greater control over cell indenting, 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 bottom-right of the Alignment group. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box, with the Alignment tab visible. (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.

You should also know that Excel allows you to indent from either the left or right of the cell. If you use the Horizontal drop-down list (in the Format Cells dialog box), you can choose Left (Indent) or Right (Indent) alignment. The number you specify in the Indent control (step 4) applies to either left or right indenting, depending on your choice in the Horizontal drop-down list.

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 (9425) 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: 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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Comments

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What is nine more than 3?

2017-12-20 10:58:38

Henry Noble

Sometimes it is easier, and certainly is clearer, to create adjacent columns 1 point (12 pixels) apart, and then type indented material into the appropriate column without fussing with cell formats.
This technique makes use of the fact that Excel will carry a long entry in one cell across adjacent cells, so long as the adjacent cells are empty. Thus, names like Revenue or Product will carry across multiple "indent" columns.


2017-12-20 08:19:50

Mark Watson

For those of us who prefer the keyboard whenever possible:

Ctrl 1 = Format Cells pop-up
Right arrow = move from Number tab to Alignment tab
Tab through the various controls to effect changes
Or, (head hung in shame) switch to the mouse to complete the task.


2013-12-28 07:56:05

Michael Carman

If you are going to use indentation within a cell, it is best to ensure that the cell is first aligned all the way to the left. Indentation applied over center and right aligned cells may give you strange and unintended results.


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