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: Understanding Monospace Fonts.

Understanding Monospace Fonts

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 9, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


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In general, there are two types of fonts: proportional space and monospace. Proportional space fonts are designed so every letter only occupies the minimum horizontal space necessary for the letter. Thus, an "i" takes less space than a "w." Monospace typefaces, on the other hand, are designed so every letter and character takes the same amount of horizontal space. If you have ever spent any time working on typewriters, then you are familiar with monospace fonts—all the fonts used by typewriters fall into this category.

You can use either type of font in Excel—the only requirement is that the font be available within Windows. The type of font you select for use in your worksheets depends, in large part, on the purpose for which you are creating your worksheet. Monospace fonts are great for drafts and for pure numerical analysis. This is because every single character is the same width—the lack of "fanciness" means you can focus directly on the numbers. If you are creating a worksheet for more formal purposes or for publishing, then you will want to look toward some of the proportional fonts available on your system.

One important thing to keep in mind is that in virtually every font available, numbers are always monospace, provided they are formatted the same. Thus, if your worksheet contains only (or mostly) numeric data, then which font you choose to use is a purely aesthetic decision; the numbers will still line up in the font you choose. This is not the case, however if you change the formatting of the font. For instance, change the font size, and the numbers will no longer line up with numbers of a different font size in a different cell. This is also the case if you make certain cells bold or italic—all formatting can change the width of individual numbers in a cell.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12573) 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: Understanding Monospace Fonts.

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?

2023-12-10 02:45:39

Alex Blakenburg

Monospace typeface is especially useful if you get a text file from another system which is not delimited and looks like it is all over the place when you pull it into Excel. Typically this is a print file (ascii text file). If you change it to a monospaced font such as Courier New or Consolas in Excel, you may find that everything does nicely line up into columns.
You can then either use Data > Text to Columns > Fixed width to split it up or use a formula such as Left, Mid, Right to extract what you need based on their position in the line.
This also applies to having a column such as serial no that are a mix of alpha and numeric characters. Any patterns will be more obvious using monospace.


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