How to Wrap Text and Formulas on Multiple Lines in Excel

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Excel's wrap text feature is a handy formatting tool that allows you to control the look of cell entries (also called labels) and headings in a worksheet. Most of the time, you'll use it as an alternative to widening worksheet columns. By wrapping the contents of a cell, you can make all of its contents visible without adding to the overall width of the worksheet.

The second use for wrapping text is to break, long convoluted formulas onto multiple lines in cells or in the formulas bar so they're easier to read and edit.

Methods Covered

As with most tasks in Microsoft programs, there's more than one way of accomplishing this one. These instructions cover two ways to wrap text in a single cell using either a keyboard shortcut or through Excel's ribbon.

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Shortcut Keys: Wrapping Text as You Type in Excel

Screenshot of Excel showing a cell with multiple lines

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
  1. Click on the cell into which you'd like to enter text.
  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.
  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 you've entered all the text, press the Enter key or click to move to another cell.

Tip: You can use the Alt + Enter shortcut key combination to wrap or break long formulas onto multiple lines in the formula bar.

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Shortcut Keys: Wrap Existing Text in Excel

Screenshot of Excel showing text edited after writing

Shortcut keys aren't just limited to text you are currently typing. If you have a selection that has already been typed out, you can follow these steps to convert the cell with a few key presses.

  1. Click on the cell containing the text.
  2. Press the F2 key or double-click on the cell to place Excel in Edit mode.
  3. Click or use the arrow keys to move the cursor to the location where the line is to be broken.
  4. Press and hold down the Alt key.
  5. Press and release the Enter key.
  6. Release the Alt key.
  7. To break the same line of text a second time, move to the new location and repeat steps 4 to 6.
  8. When you're finished, press the Enter key or click on another cell to exit Edit mode.


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Ribbon: Wrapping Text in Excel

Screenshot of Excel showing wrapped text via the ribbon bar

As an alternative to using shortcut keys, the ribbon presents a wrapping option, for individuals who don't want to worry about memorizing key commands:

  1. Click on the cell(s) containing the text to be wrapped.
  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 be fully visible, with the text broken into two lines or lines with no spillover into adjacent cells.

Note: Excel will automatically wrap the contained text as it sees fit. If you are looking for fine control, you will need to use the aforementioned shortcut keys.