In Excel, numbers are automatically aligned to the right of a cell. Text is aligned to the left. This alignment may not always be the most suitable and it can be easily changed.

As well as horizontal alignment (left, right and centre), there is vertical alignment (top, centre and bottom) and options to angle the text. Changing the angle of the text is useful if you have lots of text and you need a column to be narrow.

Selecting Cells

Before you apply any alignment settings, you must select the cells first:

  • To select a single cell, simply move to it in the spreadsheet using the arrow keys.
  • To select several adjacent cells, select the first cell, hold down Shift and arrow to the last cell.
  • To select a whole column, arrow to the column and press Control and Spacebar.
  • To select a whole row, arrow to the row and press Shift + Spacebar.
  • To select all the data on the spreadsheet, press Control + Shift + Spacebar.
  • To select the entire spreadsheet, press Control + A.

Changing the Alignment

  1. Select the cells.
  2. Press the Applications Key (or Shift + F10), then arrow down to Format Cells and press Enter (or press the letter F).
  3. Press Control + Tab to get to the Alignment options page.
  4. Tab to Horizontal and choose left, right or centre, as appropriate.
  5. Tab to Vertical and choose top, centre or bottom, as appropriate.
  6. Press Enter when finished.

If you want to change the angle of the text, in the Alignment options, Tab to Degrees to choose the angle of the text. For example, setting to 90 degrees will display the text so that it reads from the bottom to the top of the cell, and the top of the text is at the left of the cell.

There are also check boxes to Wrap Text, Shrink to Fit and Merge Cells. Use the Spacebar to select these options when in the Alignment options.

Wrap text will make sure that the text stays in the confines of the cell and not hidden by the cell to the right. With Wrap Text set, when the text reaches the right hand edge of the cell, it will continue underneath, and the row height will automatically increase.

Shrink to Fit will automatically change the size of the text to fit into the cell width.

Merge Cells applies when more than one cell is being formatted and automatically aligns across the selection of cells.