Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Shrinking Cell Contents.

Shrinking Cell Contents

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 10, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Excel includes a feature that allows you to shrink the contents of a cell so that everything fits on a single line. This feature can have bizarre results if the cell contains quite a bit of text, or if the column width is relatively narrow. You can take advantage of this feature by following these steps:

  1. Choose the cell (or cells) you want to affect.
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the small icon at the lower-right corner of the Number group. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Alignment tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Alignment tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  6. Make sure the Shrink To Fit check box is selected.
  7. Click on OK.

You should note that this option does not cause Excel to reduce the point size of the text within the cell, only to make it appear to be smaller. This may sound confusing, and quite frankly is of little consequence when applied to the real world. Whether the point size is technically adjusted or not, the information in the cell still appears smaller, as necessary, to fit everything on a single line.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11946) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Shrinking Cell Contents.

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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