Use Shortcut Keys and Ribbon Options to Add Borders in Excel

Adding, Drawing, and Formatting Borders in Excel
Adding, Drawing, and Formatting Borders in Excel. © Ted French

In Excel, borders are lines added to the edges of a cell or group of cells.

The line styles that can be used for borders include single, double, and occasionally broken lines. The thickness of the lines can vary as can the color.

Borders are formatting features used to improve the appearance of your worksheet. They can make it easier to find and read specific data.

They can also be used to draw attention to important data such as the results of formulas.

Adding lines and borders is a quick way to format important information in Excel.

Column totals, blocks of data, or important titles and headings can all be made more visible by the addition of lines and borders.

Adding Borders Using a Keyboard Shortcut

Note: This shortcut adds a border to the outside edges of one or more selected cells using the default line color and thickness.

The key combination for adding borders is:

 Ctrl + Shift + & (ampersand key) 

Example of How to Add Borders Using a Keyboard Shortcut

  1. Highlight the desired range cells in the worksheet
  2. Press and hold down the Ctrl and the Shift keys on the keyboard.
  3. Press and release the number ampersand key ( & ) - above the number 7 on the keyboard - without releasing the Ctrl and Shift keys.
  4. The selected cells should be surrounded by a black border.

Adding Borders in Excel Using Ribbon Options

As shown in the image above, the Borders option is located under the Home tab of the ribbon.

  1. Highlight the desired range cells in the worksheet
  2. Click on the Home tab of the ribbon;
  3. Click on the Borders icon on the ribbon to open the drop down menu as shown in the image above;
  4. Click on the desired type of border from the menu;
  5. The chosen border should appear around the selected cells.

Border Options

There are a great many options when it comes to adding and formatting lines and borders:

  • borders can be added to one or all sides of a cell or block of cells;
  • different thickness of lines can be used;
  • a variety of line styles are available;
  • there are a number of colors to choose from;
  • Excel's draw borders feature can be used to draw borders around irregularly shaped blocks of data, as shown in the image example.

Drawing Borders

As shown in the image, the Draw Border feature is located at the bottom of the Borders drop-down menu as shown in the image above.

One advantage to using draw borders is that it is not necessary to select cells first. Instead, once the draw borders option is selected borders can be added directly to a worksheet, as shown on the right side of the image.

Changing Line Color and Line Style

Draw Borders also contains options for changing the line color and line style, which makes it much easier to vary the appearance of borders used to highlight important blocks of data.

The line style options allow you to create borders with:

  • lines of varying thickness
  • dotted and dashed lines
  • double lines

Using Draw Borders

  1. Click on the Home tab of the ribbon;
  2. Click on the Borders option on the ribbon to open the drop down menu;
  3. Change the line color and/or line style if desired;
  4. Click on Draw Border at the bottom of the drop down menu;
  5. The mouse pointer changes into a pencil - as shown on the right side of the image;
  6. Click on individual cell gridlines to add single borders in these locations;
  7. Click and drag with the pointer to add outside borders to a cell or cells.

Draw Border Grid

Another option of Draw Border is to add both outside and inside borders to one or more cells at the same time. 

To do so, click and drag across cells and "draw border grid" to create borders around all cells that are part of the selection.

Stop Drawing Borders

To stop drawing borders, simply click a second time on the border icon on the ribbon.

The last type of border used is remembered by the program, however, so clicking the borders icon again re-enables that mode.

Erase Borders

This option, as the name suggests, makes it easy to remove borders from worksheet cells. But unlike the No Border option from the standard borders list, Erase Borders allows you to remove border lines individually - just by clicking on them.

Multiple borders can also be removed using click and drag.