Use Shortcut Keys and Ribbon Options to Add Borders in Excel

Emphasize important data with a border

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 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

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)

How to Add a Border Using a Keyboard Shortcut

Open an Excel worksheet and then:

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

Adding Borders in Excel Using Ribbon Options

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. In the Font group, click on the arrow next to the Borders icon to open a drop-down menu.
  4. Click on the desired type of border from the menu.

The chosen border appears around the selected cells.

Border Options

Many options are available 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 thicknesses of lines can be used.
  • A variety of line styles are available.
  • There is a selection of colors to choose from.
  • Excel's Draw Border feature can be used to draw borders around irregularly shaped blocks of data.

Draw Border Feature

The Draw Border feature is located at the bottom of the Borders drop-down menu.

One advantage to using Draw Border is that it is not necessary to select cells first. Instead, once the Draw Border option is selected, borders can be added directly to a worksheet.

Changing Line Color and Line Style

Draw Border also contains options for changing the line color and line style, which makes it easy 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 Border

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

Draw Border Grid

Another option on the Borders menu is Draw Border Grid, which adds both outside and inside borders to one or more cells at the same time. 

Select Draw Border Grid in the Border drop-down menu and then click and drag across cells to create borders around all cells that are part of the selection.

Stop Drawing Borders

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

The program remembers the last type of border you use, so clicking the Borders icon again re-enables that mode.

Erase Border

The Erase Border option, as the name suggests, makes it easy to remove borders from worksheet cells. Unlike the No Border option from the standard Borders list, Erase Border allows you to remove border lines individually just by clicking on them. You can remove multiple borders using click and drag.