Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Adjusting Cell Margins for More White Space.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 13, 2020)
Serena asked if there is a way to adjust the text margins with a cell so that there is more white space within a cell. The answer is that there is no intrinsic Excel command to add more space, as you can do in Word tables or with the CELLPADDING attribute in an HTML table. However, there is a way you can accomplish the desired goal, although it is somewhat more manual in nature. Follow these general steps:
Figure 1. The Alignment tab of the Format Cells dialog box.
The drawback to this approach, of course, is that it affects the width of not just one cell, but of the entire column and row. In addition, your numbers will not line up properly—on the decimal point—if you choose to center horizontally. The way around this last issue is to still center the contents horizontally, but use a custom number format for the cells, as follows:
The question marks in the format forces Excel to leave space as if there were a digit, even if there isn't.
You cannot change the vertical white space without adjusting row height. There is, however, one thing you can try if you want to change the horizontal white space: Adjust the indent value used in a cell. All you need to do is display the Format Cells dialog box and set the indent on the Alignment tab. You can adjust either the left or right indent (check out the Horizontal drop-down list), but not both.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11498) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Adjusting Cell Margins for More White Space.
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!
Keyboard shortcuts can save time and make developing a workbook much easier. Here's how to apply the most common of ...Discover More
There are many ways that Excel allows you to highlight information in a cell. This tip examines a way to highlight values ...Discover More
Excel provides a variety of tools you can use to make your data look more presentable on the screen and on a printout. ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
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.