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How to wrap text in Excel? (Quick tricks and FAQs)

Author: Xiaoyang Last Modified: 2024-01-11

When you have long text that doesn't fit in a cell, making the column wider might seem like the easiest solution. But this isn't practical when you're dealing with a large worksheet full of data. A better option is to wrap text that exceeds a column width. It allows you fit long text neatly within a column without stretching it. In this guide, we'll show you how to quickly wrap text automatically and manually in Excel, making your sheet look cleaner and more organized.

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What is wrap text in Excel?

In Excel, when you enter or copy text that is too long to fit into a cell, two scenarios can occur:

  • If the cells to the right are empty, the long text will spill over, extending past the cell's border into the adjacent empty cells.
  • If there is data in the cell directly to the right, the long text will be truncated at the border of the original cell, making it appear cut off.

In this case, to keep the text visible and your sheet neat and organized, you can automatically or manually wrap the long text into multiple lines.

  • Wrap text automatically: Excel’s Wrap Text feature can help to automatically wrap text within a cell when its length exceeds the cell’s width.
  • Wrap text manually: Alternatively, you can also manually insert line breaks at specific locations in a cell. This provides more precise control over how the text is wrapped.

Automatically wrap text by using Wrap Text feature

In Excel, the Wrap Text feature is a simple way to show long text in a cell over several lines, making sure all the text fits nicely inside the cell without spilling over.

Select the cells where you want to wrap the text, and then click Wrap Text under the Home tab, and the text in the selected cells will automatically wrap to fit the column width. See the demo below:

  • When you adjust the width of a column, the data wrapped inside a cell will automatically rearrange itself to fit the new column size.
  • If you want to unwrap text, select the cells, and click the Wrap Text feature from the Home tab again.

Manually wrap text by inserting a line break

Sometimes, if you need to begin a new line at a specific position in a cell, instead of letting long text wrap automatically, you can manually insert line breaks to achieve this. To enter a line break manually, please do with the following steps:

  1. Double-click the cell in which you want to enter line breaks. Then, put the cursor at the position where you want to insert a line break. See screenshot:
  2. And then, hold the Alt key and press the Enter key. Now, a line break is inserted at the position you specified, see screenshot:
  3. Repeat above steps to insert the line breaks one by one. As the result, you will get multiple lines in the cell.
  • When you insert manual line breaks, the Wrap Text option is automatically activated. If you disable text wrapping, the data will appear as a single line within the cell, but the line breaks you added will still be visible in the formula bar.
    doc wrap text 12
  • To remove a manual line break, double click a cell, place your cursor at the beginning of the line and press Backspace key.
  • If there are multiple line breaks needed to remove, please select the cells, and then press Ctrl + H to open the Find and Replace dialog box. In the dialog box:
    1. Place the cursor in the Find what field, and press Ctrl + J to add a line break character.
    2. Leave the Replace with field empty.
    3. Then press the Replace All button.

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Excel wrap text not working - reasons and solutions

Excel's Wrap Text feature is a powerful tool for ensuring text fits neatly in your spreadsheet cells. However, there are times when this function doesn't work as expected. In this section, we'll discuss why Excel's wrap text feature sometimes fails and offer solutions to fix these issues.

>> Fixed row height

When you use Wrap Text in Excel, it places additional lines of text below the first line in the cell. If you can't see all the wrapped text in a cell, it's probably because the row height is fixed at a specific value. In this case, you need to adjust the cell height.

  • To display all contents in a cell, you can manually adjust the row height by dragging the row's bottom edge.
  • Alternatively, select the cells, then, click Home > Format > AutoFit Row Height, and all the contents, previously not fully visible, are displayed completely.

>> Merged cells

Excel's Wrap Text feature is incompatible with merged cells, if you retain merged cells, you can show all the text by widening the column. To use Wrap Text feature, unmerge the cells by clicking the Merge & Center button under the Home tab.

>> The column width is wide enough

  • If you apply the Wrap Text feature to a cell that is already wide enough to display its content, there will be no visible change.
  • If you want the text to split into multiple lines, even when there's enough width in the column, you'll need to manually insert line breaks.

>> Protected Sheets

If your worksheet is protected, the Wrap Text feature becomes grayed out and is not enabled when you try to apply it. To enable this feature, you should unprotect the sheet by clicking Review > Unprotect Sheet, and type the password to cancel the protection.

FAQs about wrap text

  1. Does Wrap Text affect the cell's width in Excel?
    No, using the Wrap Text feature in Excel does not affect the width of the cell. Wrap Text causes the text to break into multiple lines within the same cell, effectively increasing the cell's height to accommodate the additional lines of text. The width of the cell remains unchanged unless manually adjusted.
  2. Will resizing columns affect wrapped text?
    Yes, changing the width of a column will automatically adjust the wrapped text to fit the new size.
  3. Can I apply Wrap Text to multiple cells at once?
    Yes, you can apply the Wrap Text feature to multiple cells at once in Excel. Simply select the range of cells you want to format, and then enable the Wrap Text option. All selected cells will then display their content across multiple lines as needed.

Overall, text wrapping in Excel is an efficient way to manage long text entries, enhancing the readability and organization of your data. This article introduces two ways to wrap text: automatically and manually. If you're interested in exploring more Excel tips and tricks, our website offers thousands of tutorials. Please click here to access them. Thank you for reading, and we look forward to providing you with more helpful information in the future!

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