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Row Height and Column Width in Excel 2013

Each column in a worksheet starts with the same width, which is 8.43 characters (based on the default font and font size) unless you’ve changed the default setting. That’s approximately seven digits and either one large symbol (such as $) or two small ones (such as decimal points and commas).

You can define the default width setting for new worksheets: Choose Home→Format→Default Width and then fill in the desired default width.

As you enter data into cells, those column widths may no longer be optimal. Data may overflow out of a cell if the width is too narrow, or there may be excess blank space in a column if its width is too wide. (Blank space is not always a bad thing, but if you’re trying to fit all the data on one page, for example, it can be a hindrance.)

In some cases, Excel makes an adjustment for you automatically, as follows:

  • For column widths: When you enter numbers in a cell, Excel widens a column as needed to accommodate the longest number in that column, provided you haven’t manually set a column width for it.

  • For row heights: Generally, a row adjusts automatically to fit the largest font used in it. You don’t have to adjust row heights manually to allow text to fit. You can change the row height if you want, though, to create special effects, such as extra blank space in the layout.

After you manually resize a row’s height or a column’s width, it won’t change its size automatically for you anymore. That’s because manual settings override automatic ones.

The units of measurement are different for rows versus columns, by the way. Column width is measured in characters of the default font size. Row height is measured in points. A point is 1/72 of an inch.

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