How to Change Multiple Grid Spacing in Excel

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The number of characters you input into a cell in a Microsoft Excel worksheet is often too large or too small for your current row or column size. This can result in Excel showing number signs for too many characters, or you may see a lot of empty white space in a cell that contains a small number of characters. You can tell Excel to adjust the size of multiple rows or columns automatically, or you can use your mouse to adjust them manually. This will adjust the gridline spacing to a more efficient spreadsheet layout to work with.

Automatic Adjustment

  • Move your mouse pointer to a column heading at the top of an Excel worksheet so that the pointer changes to an arrow pointing down. For example, move your mouse pointer to the column "A" heading to show an arrow pointing down.

  • Click and hold the left mouse button, and then drag the pointer any number of columns to the left or right. For example, click and hold the left mouse button and drag the pointer to column "D."

  • Release the left mouse button. This highlights the range of columns from the column you first clicked through the column over which your pointer is located when you release the mouse button. In the example, release the mouse button, which highlights columns "A" through "D."

  • Click the "Format" drop-down menu in the "Cells" group on the "Home" tab at the top of Excel.

  • Click "AutoFit Column Width." Excel automatically adjusts the width of the highlighted columns based on the number of characters in the cells in each column.

Mouse Adjustment

  • Place your mouse icon over a column heading in an Excel worksheet so that the icon becomes a downward arrow. For example, place your mouse icon over the column "B" heading so that the icon becomes a downward arrow.

  • Click and hold the left mouse button, and then drag your mouse icon to the left or right to another column. For example, click and hold the left mouse button and then drag your mouse icon to column "E."

  • Release the left mouse button. Excel highlights the range of columns over which you dragged your mouse icon. For example, release the mouse button over column "E," which highlights columns "B" through "E."

  • Move your mouse pointer to the right border of the column heading of one of the highlighted columns so that the pointer changes to a cross with double arrows.

  • Click and hold the left mouse button, and then drag the pointer left or right to adjust the column width.

  • Release the mouse button to set the width. This adjusts the width of all the highlighted columns to the same width as that column you adjusted.

Tips & Warnings

  • To adjust multiple rows instead of columns, perform Steps 1 through 3 in the "Automatic Adjustment" section by clicking row headings instead of column headings. Click "AutoFit Row Height" in the "Format" menu to automatically adjust the row height of the highlighted rows. Alternatively, you can click and drag the bottom border of any highlighted row heading to adjust the height manually.
  • You can highlight multiple non-adjacent rows or columns by clicking a row or column heading, holding the "Ctrl" key and clicking additional row or column headings.
  • AutoFit doesn't work for columns or rows that contain merged cells, but you can manually adjust those rows or columns.

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