Merging Cells in Excel and Google Sheets

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In Excel and Google Sheets, a merged cell is a single cell created by combining or merging two or more individual cells. Both programs have options to merge cells horizontally, vertically or both.

Additionally, Excel has the option to merge and center data, which is a commonly used formatting feature when creating titles or headings. The Merge & Center option is used to center headings across multiple worksheet columns.

Where to Find the Merge Function

Screenshot of Merge function in Excel

Ted French

In Excel, the merge option is found on the Home tab of the ribbon. The icon for the feature is entitled Merge & Center, but when you click on the down arrow to the right of the name as shown in the accompanying image, a drop-down menu of all merge options opens.

In Google Sheets, the​ Merge Cells option is found under the Format menu; the feature is only activated if multiple adjacent cells are selected.

How to Merge Worksheet Cells

Screenshot of Merge function in Google Sheets

Ted French

Merge Cells in Excel:

  1. Select multiple cells to merge.
  2. Click on the Merge & Center icon on the Home tab of the ribbon to merge cells and center data across the selected range.
  3. To use one of the other merge options, click on the down arrow next to the Merge & Center icon and choose from the available options: Merge & Center, Merge Across, Merge Cells, and Unmerge Cells.

Merge Cells in Google Sheets:

  1. Select multiple cells to merge.
  2. Click on Format > Merge cells in the menu.
  3. Choose from the available options: Merge all, Merge horizontally, Merge Vertically, and Unmerge.

Excel Merge and Center Alternative

Screenshot of Format Cell Alignment option

Ted French

You don't have to use the Merge & Center option if you only want to center the content of cells. Use Center Across Selection located in the Format Cells dialog box instead. The advantage of using this feature rather than Merge & Center is that it centers without merging the selected cells.

If more than one cell contains data when the feature is applied, the data in the cells is centered individually much as when changing the alignment of a cell.

To center heading or title text across multiple columns, do the following:

  1. Select a range of cells containing the text to be centered.
  2. Click on the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Select the Format Cell Alignment menu — represented by a diagonal arrow and the letters ab.
  4. In the drop-down menu, select the Format Cell Alignment option.
  5. In the pop-up window, click on the Alignment tab.
  6. Under Horizontal Alignment, click on Center Across Selection to center the selected text across the range of cells.
  7. Click OK to close the dialog box and return to the worksheet.

Pre-Excel 2007 Merge & Center Shortcomings

Before Excel 2007, using Merge & Center could cause problems when making subsequent changes to the merged area of the worksheet. Before adding new columns, follow these steps.

  1. Unmerge the currently merged cells containing the title or heading.
  2. Add new columns to the worksheet.
  3. Reapply the Merge and Center option.

Since Excel 2007, it has been possible to add additional columns to the merged area in the same manner as other areas of the worksheet without following these steps.