Use Shortcut Keys and Ribbon Options to Add Borders in Excel

Emphasize important data with borders

Borders on a wall

 VANDAL Photography / Getty Images

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 well as the color.

The information in this article applies to Excel versions 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and Excel for Mac.

About Borders in Excel Worksheets

Borders are formatting features used to improve the appearance of your worksheet. Borders make it easier to find and read specific data. Borders also draw attention to important data, such as the results of formulas.

Screenshot of Excel showing different border styles

Add Borders Using a Keyboard Shortcut

If you prefer to work with your keyboard, use a keyboard shortcut to add a border to the outside edges of one or more selected cells. This shortcut uses the default line color and thickness. The key combination to add a border is:

Ctrl + Shift + &

To add a border to a range of cells within an Excel worksheet:

  1. Highlight the desired range of cells in the worksheet.

  2. Press and hold the Ctrl and the Shift keys.

  3. Press the & key without releasing the Ctrl and Shift keys to surround the selected cells by a black border.

Add Borders in Excel Using Ribbon Options

The Borders option is located under the Home tab and can be used to add custom borders to cells in your worksheet.

Screenshot of Excel showing how to add borders from the ribbon

To add a custom border:

  1. Highlight the desired range of cells in the worksheet.

  2. Select Home.

  3. Select the Borders down arrow to open a drop-down list of border options.

  4. Choose a border style. The chosen border appears around the selected cells.

Choose a Variety of Border Options

When you're ready to add and format lines and borders in an Excel worksheet, you have several options:

  • Add borders to one or all sides of a cell or block of cells.
  • Choose a line thickness.
  • Select from a variety of line styles.
  • Apply a color to a border.
  • Draw borders around irregularly shaped blocks of data with Excel's Draw Border feature.

Draw Border Lines Quickly with the Draw Border Feature

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

Screenshot of Excel showing how to format your borders

Draw Border also contains options for changing the line color and line style. This 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

To draw border lines with the Draw Border feature:

  1. Select Home.

  2. Select the arrow next to Borders to open the drop-down. From this list, you can choose a different line color, change the line thickness, and draw border lines around cells.

  3. Select Line Color and choose the color you want to use for the border.

  4. Select Line Style and choose the line thickness you want to apply to the border.

  5. Select Draw Border. The mouse pointer changes into a pencil.

  6. Select the side of individual cells where you want to add a single border.

  7. Drag with the pointer to add an outside border to a cell or group of cells.

Draw with the Border Grid

Another option on in the Borders list is Draw Border Grid. With Draw Border Grid, you can add outside and inside borders to one or more cells at the same time. Select Home > Borders > Draw Border Grid and drag the mouse pointer to create borders around the desired cells.

Stop Drawing Borders

To stop drawing borders, select Borders. Excel remembers the last type of border you use, so selecting Borders again re-enables that mode.

Screenshot of Excel showing how to draw a border with the pencil mouse icon

Erase a Border

The Erase Border option, as the name suggests, makes it easy to remove borders from worksheet cells. Erase Border allows you to remove border lines individually by selecting them. You can remove multiple borders by dragging across those cells.