Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 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: Creating Two-Line Custom Formats.

Creating Two-Line Custom Formats

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 17, 2018)

4

Excel is quite flexible in how it allows you to set up custom formats for displaying all sorts of values. Most custom formats are straightforward and easy to figure out, once you understand how custom formats work. (Custom formats and how to set them up has been discussed fully in other issues of ExcelTips.)

What if you want to create a two-line custom format, however? For instance, you may want to format a date so that the abbreviated day of the week and day of the month is on the first line, followed by the unabbreviated name of the month on the second line. Using such a format, a date would appear in a single cell in this manner:

Sat 13
April

Most of this can be done by the custom format "ddd d mmmm", but you need to figure out a way to add a line break between the "d" and the "mmmm". Excel won't let you press Alt+Enter between them, which is what you normally do to add a line break.

The solution is to use the numeric keypad to enter the desired line break in the format. Follow these steps to set it up:

  1. Select the cells you want to format.
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the small icon at the bottom-right of the Number group. Excel displays the Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.
  4. In the Category list, choose Custom. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  6. Delete whatever is in the Type box.
  7. Type "ddd d" without the quote marks.
  8. Hold down the Alt key while you press 0010 on the numeric keypad. This enters the line feed character, and it looks like the portion of the format you typed in step 6 disappears. It is not really gone; it has just moved up above what can be displayed in the Type box.
  9. Type "mmmm" without the quote marks.
  10. Click the Alignment tab. (See Figure 2.)
  11. Figure 2. The Alignment tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  12. Make sure the Wrap Text check box is selected.
  13. Click OK.

After setting up the format in this manner, you will need to adjust the row height of the formatted cells so that the entire two lines of the date will display.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12587) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Creating Two-Line Custom Formats.

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 three more than 5?

2018-11-09 07:40:56

Cal

Hi Allen,


How do you perform this on a Mac?
Using the 'Option' key doesn't work.

Thanks


2018-11-07 08:21:01

Matt

Hi Allen

This tip doesn't seem to work when applying a format based on a conditional formatting rule. Do you know if there's a workaround for that case?

Thanks!


2018-11-05 10:41:54

Roy

You can always type the format string in a regular cell that wraps text so you can see it perfectly as you enter it. Then copy it (copy the cell contents IN the cell, not the cell itself, not the cell itself) and paste instead of typing to produce the custom format.

Except... it won't paste in the Alt-Enter. It brings it in as a space.

However, you can easily edit the string where the Alt-Enter's are needed. Since that is the only thing you are editing, and not the crafting of the string itself, you have no worries like the one you mention.

(Edit from the end, moving back, and you will always have everything at the start still displayed. It's easier to see you are putting them in the right place... because... after you place the first Alt-Enter, nothing after that is visible...)


2018-03-19 05:00:37

Tony Nixon

I don't know when I will need this but it certainly works, and I have tried it up to four lines, not just two. It is a little tricky not being able to see the format code you have actually created though, or at least check where you have put the line fee characters


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