Extra Blank Lines in Some Cells

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 3, 2024)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Ray notes that when Excel displays text information on the screen as wrapped text with cell height adjusted automatically to the amount of text, it seems to randomly leave an extra blank line at the bottom of some cells. Adjusting column width can make the blank line disappear. Why does that blank line occur, and how can it be avoided?

There are two possible reasons for the blank line. Let's deal with the obvious one that can be easily fixed: There may be an invisible character (such as a space or two) at the end of the information in the cell. You can check this by editing the cell contents, placing the insertion point at the end of those contents, and pressing the Backspace key however many times are necessary. If those invisible characters are removed, then that should get rid of the unwanted blank line.

The other possible reason is trickier. If you see a blank line and there are no invisible characters, then the line could be caused by Excel's internal calculations relative to text wrapping. How Excel does the calculation is not public, nor is it adjustable. You can, however, affect it by simply changing some things that it obviously takes into account. For instance, you could change column width, typeface, or font size. Less obvious, though, is that you can change things such as vertical alignment of the cell contents or size of cell margins.

Change any of these, and you'll see a change in how the wrapping occurs. Don't be surprised, however, if a change "fixes" one cell, but causes a blank-line issue with another cell. The only way to make sure there are no extra lines is to turn off text wrapping and, instead, manually adjust row height. That way, there are no internal calculations taking place that could affect the height.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11024) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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 two more than 7?

2024-02-05 10:51:47


I too agree that this action (occasional extra blank rows) appears to be a result of what Excel (internally) thinks the text wrapping is, vs what it actually is on your screen. I've sometimes wondered if one would see this effect if a font with a fixed width character size was used. Can't say that I've ever tested that theory though. Perhaps this action is being triggered by font substitutions, screen font approximations vs actual font... something along those lines.

My own observation over the years is that this typically happens when the last line of text is almost a full row. That is, the last line is about 80% or more of the column width. If it is less, then the additional blank row typically doesn't occur. If one shortens the last row of text, you will hit a point where the blank row below disappears. Supports the idea that Excel's internal calculation is not aligned with what one sees on the screen.

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