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: Countering Compressed Columns.

Countering Compressed Columns

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 28, 2019)

3

Mark is experiencing a problem where, when he opens a workbook, many of the column widths have been compressed (narrowed) and need to be reset. This could be caused by a number of different things, so you'll need to do some checking.

The first thing to check is if someone else is opening the workbook. For instance, if the workbook is accessible across a network, and another person opens it, they could be changing the column widths. The user could even be doing this inadvertently. For instance, if the user has a different screen resolution than yours, then Excel will adapt the workbook to that resolution, and that may change the column widths. The solution is to either make sure that nobody else opens the workbook or make sure that everyone uses the same screen resolution.

You should also check your Zoom setting for the workbook. It could be that the column widths aren't changing at all, but that the Zoom setting is. This would make the columns appear to be a compressed width, even though they aren't.

Finally, it could also be that there are elements in the workbook that are forcing Excel to change column widths when they are automatically calculated. There have been reports of elements such as PivotTables and graphics causing column widths to change automatically.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10817) 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: Countering Compressed Columns.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Automatically Formatting Graphics and AutoShapes

Want to change the graphics formatting defaults in Word? You can customize some of these defaults, saving yourself some time.

Discover More

Using the XIRR Function

One of the financial worksheet functions provided in Excel is the XIRR function. This is used to figure out an internal ...

Discover More

Comments Don't Appear when Cell is Pointed To

One way that you can view comments in a worksheet is to have them appear when you hover the mouse pointer over a cell. If ...

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Shortcuts to Hide Columns

Need a quick way to hide and unhide columns in a worksheet? The shortcuts described in this tip can help fill the bill.

Discover More

Double-Clicking to Widen Columns Won't Work

One way you can widen the columns in a worksheet to fit whatever is in the column is by double-clicking the right edge of ...

Discover More

Hiding and Unhiding Columns

Want to hide a column so it doesn't appear in the worksheet? It's easy to do using the formatting capabilities of Excel.

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 5 + 2?

2019-12-29 10:00:59

Ken Cameron

Frank, did that quite a while ago with no luck.


2019-12-28 15:17:08

Frank Panipinto

Not sure how much this will help, but try deselecting "Autofit column widths on update" in Pivot Table Options.


2019-12-28 13:00:09

Ken Cameron

Allen, I get this issue constantly, but with two situations:
1. As you mentioned, with Pivot tables, especially when you hit Refresh. Pivot tables also seem to drop selected Line Borders. I use many Pivot tables in PowerPoint presentations and when I make a small change to the source data, I have to go and reformat all of the Pivot Tables. Very frustrating.
2. If a tab contains a large table, almost any edit to the table (delete a column, insert a column) generally wipes out the column widths. I think (not 100% positive) that column widths are kept in their "Relative" positions, i.e., if column "J" holds a date and width is set to 10 positions, column "K" holds full names with the width set to 30 characters, and column "L" is nickname only with width of 12 characters, if I delete any column before "K", the full name moves to column "J" but with the old column width of 10 positions. The nickname becomes column "K" and has the 30 character width. This is also so frustrating.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.