Formatting in Microsoft Excel

Updated: May 26

#formatting #microsoftexcel

By: Tony Gaskell


There are many ways to format cells. The main thing to remember is that any options that are used will take effect on the cells that are currently selected.

On the Home toolbar, there are numerous formatting options. The most useful are highlighted here.


In the font section we have the usual font tools to change the font style, bold, italic and underline, increase and decrease the font size.


The Borders option is useful for making data stand out. There are many options, but there are three I use 95% of the time.

Those are:

  • No Border to remove borders if you make a mistake

  • All Borders to make the cell grid show and also print; essentially to make it into a table.

  • Thick Outside Borders, which can be used to separate sections and demarcate a table of data.

A good techniques is to select a table of data, use All Borders followed by Thick Outside Borders. The following table has been created using this method. The headings have been bolded and some of the cells have been filled with colour.

Cell and Font Colour

These two options allow you to change the background colour of the cell and change the font colour:


There are many ways to change the alignment of the values in the cells.

Changes the vertical alignment – top, middle, bottom.

Changes the horizontal alignment – left, centre, right.

Changes the direction of the text.

Wraps the text. If a column is not wide enough to contain a value, the default behaviour of Excel is to spread the value over into the next cell, unless there is something in that cell in which case it will be truncated. This makes the text wrap within the cell so it all will be visible (but the row height will probably need to increase).

Combines several cells into one (they will need to be selected first) and centralises the value across them. This is really useful for titles/sub-titles of tables. You can change the alignment to left- or right-aligned after this has been done if you don’t want it to be centralised.