How to Wrap Text and Formulas on Multiple Lines in Excel

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How to Wrap Text and Formulas in Excel

Wrapping Text and Formulas in Excel
Wrapping Text and Formulas in Excel. © Ted French

Excel's wrap text feature is a handy formatting feature that allows you to control the look of labels and headings in a worksheet.

Most of the time it is used as an alternative to widening worksheet columns to make long headings visible, wrap text allows you to place text on multiple lines within a single cell.

A second use for wrap text is to break long convoluted formulas on to multiple lines in cell where the formula is located or in the formulas bar with the objective to make them easier to read and edit.

Methods Covered

As in all Microsoft programs, there is more than one way of accomplishing a task. These instructions cover two ways to wrap text in a single cell:

  • using a keyboard shortcut to wrap text and to wrap formulas
  • using the Wrap Text option on the Home tab of the ribbon

Using Shortcut Keys to Wrap Text

The shortcut key combination for wrapping text in Excel is the same one used to insert line breaks (sometimes called soft returns) in Microsoft Word:

Alt + Enter 

Example: Wrap Text as You Type

  1. Click on the cell where you want the text to be located
  2. Type the first line of text
  3. Press and hold down the Alt key on the keyboard
  4. Press and release the Enter key on the keyboard without releasing the Alt key
  5. Release the Alt key
  6. The insertion point should move to the line below the text just entered
  7. Type the second line of text
  8. If you wish to enter more than two lines of text, continue to press Alt + Enter at the end of each line
  9. When all the text has been entered, press the Enter key on the keyboard or click with the mouse to move to another cell

Example: Wrap Text That Has Already Been Typed

  1. Click on the cell containing the text to be wrapped onto multiple lines
  2. Press the F2 key on the keyboard or double click on the cell to place Excel in Edit mode.
  3. Click with the mouse pointer or use the arrow keys on the keyboard to move the cursor to the location where the line is to be broken
  4. Press and hold down the Alt key on the keyboard
  5. Press and release the Enter key on the keyboard without releasing the Alt key
  6. Release the Alt key
  7. The line of text should be split onto two lines in the cell
  8. To break the same line of text a second time, move to the new location and repeat steps 4 to 6 above
  9. When finished, press the Enter key on the keyboard or click on another cell to exit Edit mode.

Using Shortcut Keys to Wrap Formulas

The Alt + Enter shortcut key combination can also be used to wrap or break long formulas onto multiple lines in the formula bar.

The steps to follow are the same as those presented above - depending on whether the formula is already present in a worksheet cell or is being broken onto multiple lines as it is entered.

Breaking existing formulas onto multiple lines can be done in the current cell or in formula bar above the worksheet.

If the formula bar is used, it can be expanded to show all lines in the formula as shown in the image above.

Using the Ribbon Option to Wrap Text

  1. Click on the cell or cells containing the text to be wrapped onto multiple lines
  2. Click on the Home tab.
  3. Click on the Wrap Text button on the ribbon.
  4. The labels in the cell(s) should now both be fully visible with the text broken into two lines or lines with no spill over into adjacent cells.
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