Change Column Widths and Row Heights in Excel and Google Spreadsheets

How do i widen a column in excel

Cup of tea and laptop with spreadsheet software

 Negative Space / Pexels

There are a couple of ways of widening columns in Excel and Google Sheets. Use the mouse to change column widths or row heights individually or use the tools in the ribbon (in Excel only) to change column widths or row heights using the ribbon options.

Learn both methods to decide which approach best suits your needs.

Instructions in this article apply to Excel for Office 365, Excel 2019, Excel 2016, Excel 2013, Excel 2010, and Google Sheets.

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Change column widths and row heights with the mouse

Screenshot of using mouse to change column width in Excel

Change Individual Column Widths with the Mouse

The steps below cover how to change individual columns widths using the mouse. To widen column A for example:

  1. Place the mouse pointer on the boundary line between columns A and B in the column header
  2. The pointer will change to a double-headed black arrow as shown in the image above
  3. Click and hold down the left mouse button and drag the double-headed arrow to the right to widen column A or to the left to make the column narrower
  4. Release the mouse button when the desired width is reached

Autofit Column Widths Using the Mouse

Another way to narrow or widen columns with the mouse is to let Excel or Google Spreadsheets auto fit the width of the column to the longest item of data contained in the column.

For long data, the column will widen, but if the column contains only short items of data, the column will narrow to fit these items.

Example: Change the width of column B using AutoFit

  1. Place the mouse pointer on the boundary line between columns B and C in the column header. The pointer will change to a double-headed arrow.
  2. Double-click the line. The column will automatically adjust its width to match the longest entry in that column

Change All Column Widths in a Worksheet Using the Mouse

To adjust all of the column widths

  1. Select all of the columns in the current worksheet.
  2. Place the mouse pointer on the boundary line between columns A and B in the column header
  3. The pointer will change to a double-headed arrow.
  4. Select the double-headed arrow and drag to the right to widen all columns in the worksheet or to the left to make all columns narrower.

Change Row Heights with the Mouse

The options and steps to changing row heights in Excel and Google Sheets with the mouse are the same as for changing column widths, except that you place the mouse pointer on the boundary line between two rows in the row header instead of the column header.

It is not possible to change the width or height of a single cell. The width must be changed for the entire column or the height for an entire row.

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Change column widths using ribbon options in Excel

Screenshot of Format > Column Width in Excel

Change column widths using the ribbon options

Microsoft Excel has a tool on the ribbon that will change the width of a column to any desired size.

  1. Select any cell in the column you want to change. To widen multiple columns highlight a cell in each column. To change the column width for the enter worksheet, choose the Select All button.
  2. Select the Home tab of the ribbon
  3. Select the Format icon to open the drop-down menu of options
  4. To AutoFit the column(s), choose that option in the Cell Size section of the menu
  5. To enter a specific size in character widths, select the Column Width option in the menu to bring up the Column Width dialog box
  6. In the dialog box enter the desired width in character (default width: 8.11 characters)
  7. Select OK to change the column widths and close the dialog box

The options and steps to changing row heights in Excel using options in the ribbon are the same as for changing column widths.

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Resize Columns and Rows in the Google Sheets Menu

Screenshot of Resize Columns in Google Sheets

Google Sheets features a right-click menu function to change the column width.

  1. Select the column(s) you want to resize.
  2. Right-click anywhere on the selection.
  3. Choose Resize Column. A Resize Column window will open.
  4. Enter the desired column width in pixels (the default width is 100 pixels).
  5. Alternatively, select Fit to Data.
  6. Select OK.