User Question: Excel is great with numbers, but how is it for dealing with text?

Excel has some tricks for dealing with text. Suppose you have typed some text at the bottom of a worksheet and you want to wrap the text to fit a rectangular range from columns B through I (Figure 1).

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Select a rectangular range that includes all the text in B and is wide enough to fill the range that you want to fill. It is a good idea to include a few extra blank rows at the bottom in case the wrapped text needs to extend that far.

Issue-154--December-29fig2From the Home tab, select Fill, Justify (Figure 2).

Excel will wrap the text to fill the selected area (Figure 3, below).

Using the Justify command is not perfect. It does not work when a cell contains more than 255 characters. If you resize any columns after the justify, you will have to do the justify command again. If some cells have different formatting, they will be lost after the justify.

Issue-154--December-29fig3Using a Text Box

If you are dealing with long passages of text, you can insert them in a text box in Excel. Follow these steps:

On the Insert tab, choose Text Box.

Draw a rectangle in your worksheet about the size and shape that you want the
text to fill. In Excel 2010, text boxes support multiple columns (Figure 4, below).

Paste (or type) the text.


Then select the text in the text box and use the Mini Toolbar to format the font size to
fit the text box.

Right-click the text box and choose Format Shape. On the Line Color category, choose No Line. In the Text Box category, you are able to specify the number of columns that you want in your text box. When you click out of the text box, your text will float on the worksheet.

This article first appeared in the December 2014 edition of the CFO LearningPro, Excel Edition, newsletter.

CFO contributor Bill Jelen is an Excel MVP and the author of 35 books about Microsoft Excel.

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2 responses to “Excel Tip: Texting, Kind Of”

  1. An virtually foolproof way to insert text is to use “general” format for the cell and the “wrap text” command. If you want the text area to span several cells across, highlight the affected area and use the “merge and center” command, subsequently left-justifying the merged area.

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