How to wrap text in Excel

This tutorial shows how to wrap text in a cell automatically and how to insert a line break manually. You will also learn the most common reasons for Excel wrap text not working and how to fix it.

Primarily, Microsoft Excel is designed to calculate and manipulate numbers. However, you may often find yourself in situations when, in addition to numbers, large amounts of text need to be stored in spreadsheets. In case longer text does not fit neatly in a cell, you can of course proceed with the most obvious way and simply make the column wider. However, it's not really an option when you work with a large worksheet that has a lot of data to display.

A much better solution is to wrap text that exceeds a column width, and Microsoft Excel provides a couple of ways to do it. This tutorial will introduce you to the Excel wrap text feature and share a few tips to use it wisely.

What is wrap text in Excel?

When the data input in a cell is too large fit in it, one of the following two things happens:

  • If columns to the right are empty, a long text string extends over the cell border into those columns.
  • If an adjacent cell to the right contains any data, a text string is cut off at the cell border.

The screenshot below shows two cases:
Wrap text in Excel

The Excel wrap text feature can help you fully display longer text in a cell without it overflowing to other cells. "Wrapping text" means displaying the cell contents on multiple lines, rather than one long line. This will allow you to avoid the "truncated column" effect, make the text easier to read and better fit for printing. In addition, it will help you keep the column width consistent throughout the entire worksheet.

The following screenshot shows how wrapped text looks like in Excel:
Wrap text to display a lengthy text string on multiple lines.

How to wrap text in Excel automatically

To force a lengthy text string to appear on multiple lines, select the cell(s) that you want to format, and turn on the Excel text wrap feature by using one of the following methods.

Method 1.  Go to the Home tab > Alignment group, and click the Wrap Text button:
Click the Wrap Text button to get longer text to appear on multiple lines.

Method 2. Press Ctrl + 1 to open the Format Cells dialog (or right-click the selected cells and then click Format Cells…), switch to the Alignment tab, select the Wrap Text checkbox, and click OK.
Another way to wrap text in Excel is using the Format Cells dialog.

Compared to the first method, this one takes a couple of extra clicks, but it may save time in case you wish to make a few changes in cell formatting at a time, wrapping text being one of those changes.

Tip. If the Wrap Text checkbox is filled in solid, it indicates that the selected cells have different text wrap settings, i.e. in some cells the data is wrapped, in other cells it is not wrapped.

Result. Whichever method you use, the data in the selected cells wraps to fit the column width. If you change the column width, text wrapping will adjust automatically. The following screenshot shows a possible result:

The text wraps to fit the column width.

How to unwrap text in Excel

As you can easily guess, the two methods described above are also used to unwrap text.

The fastest way is to select the cell(s) and click the Wrap Text button (Home tab > Alignment group) to toggle text wrapping off.

Alternatively, press the Ctrl + 1 shortcut to open the Format Cells dialog and clear the Wrap text checkbox on the Alignment tab.

How to insert a line break manually

Sometimes you may want to start a new line at a specific position rather than have lengthy text wrap automatically. To enter a line break manually, just do the following:

  • Enter cell edit mode by pressing F2 or double-clicking the cell or clicking in the formula bar.
  • Put the cursor where you want to break the line, and press the Alt+Enter shortcut (e. press the Alt key and while holding it down, press the Enter key).

Result. Inserting a manual line break turns on the Wrap Text option automatically. However, the line breaks entered manually will stick in place when the column is made wider. If you turn off text wrapping, the data displays in one line in a cell, but the inserted line breaks are visible in the formula bar. The following screenshot demonstrates both scenarios (a line break in entered after the word "owl"):

A line break is inserted manually.

Excel wrap text not working

As one of the most often used features in Excel, Warp Text was designed as simple as possible and you will hardly have any problems using it in your worksheets. If text wrapping does not work as expected, check out the following troubleshooting tips.

1. Fixed row height

If not all wrapped text is visible in a cell, most likely the row is set to a certain height. To fix this, select the problematic cell, go to the Home tab > Cells group, and click Format > AutoFit Row Height:
Excel wrap text not working because of a fixed row height

Or, you can set a specific row height by clicking Row Height… and then typing the desired number in the Row height box. A fixed row height comes in especially handy to control the way the table headers are displayed.

2. Merged cells

Excel's Wrap Text does not work for merged cells, so you will have to decide which feature is more important for a particular sheet. If you keep the merged cells, you can display the full text by making the column(s) wider. If you opt for Wrap Text, then unmerge cells by clicking the Merge & Center button on the Home tab, in the Alignment group:
Excel wrap text not working because of merged cells

3. The cell is wide enough to display its value

If you try to wrap a cell(s) that is already wide enough to display its contents, nothing will happen, even if later on the column is resized and becomes too narrow to fit longer entries. To force the text to wrap, toggle the Excel Wrap Text button off and on again.

This is how you wrap text in Excel to display longer text on multiple lines. I thank you for reading and hope to see you on our blog next week!

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25 Responses to "How to wrap text in Excel"

  1. Imran Masud says:

    Thanks. Svetlana. Keep continuing your effort to teach us.

  2. Preet says:

    Thank u for the information. I found it really helpful.

  3. Michele says:

    Does anyone know how to turn OFF automatic text wrapping in Excel 2016?
    Every time I enter or edit text, it wraps it and I have to manually unwrap. Driving me crazy!

    • Hi Michele,

      To my best knowledge, there is no way to disable automatic text wrapping in Excel. However, you can use the following workaround:

      1. Select all rows for which you want Wrap Text to be turned off.
      2. Right click on the selected rows, and then choose Row Height from the popup menu.
      3. In the Row Height window, just click OK, without changing the default value (15).

      This will let Excel know that you want a fixed row height instead of auto-sizing it.

      • Flower says:

        Hello Svetlana.
        Thanks, but unfortunately this is only half of the solution I would need: It's true that this operation makes the cell stay in the same size. But my problem is, that I still have to click each time "not wraped" manually for something else that I want: 1. If its "not wraped" -> Once I go back to a cell and I double-click: it shows the text across all the screen so I can easily read all the text at once and see whats in there. (THATS GREAT!)
        2. If I added in a cell (it wraps automatically) -> If I then do not click on "not wraped" before entering again (THAT IS EXHAUSTING), it shows the text only in the length of the cell ...so I cannot see all the text at one across my screen.
        (PS: I know I could see the text also in the screen on the top, but that window is not big enough ..., or if I make it bigger, I would not be able to quickly see my table after, without making it little again.)
        Thanks for your help!

  4. ruchika parikh says:

    How can we copy wrap texted row into normal from a excel file to another excel file

  5. anil yadav says:

    Add coloum small not help me
    mob . 7055568820

  6. Walter alker says:

    In Excel 2016 - with text wrap on the last line of text in the cell does not print?

  7. neamatullah says:

    how to automatically wrap text when we marge two row

  8. Becky says:

    I used Alt+Enter to put manual line breaks in an Excel file. When I then copied the cells from Excel and pasted them into Word, it did not retain the same line breaks? Any suggestions?

  9. kevingeorge says:

    Needed to compose you a very little word to thank you yet again regarding the nice suggestions you’ve contributed here.

  10. Edmund Ong says:

    How to wrap text in a way that after the line break the words move to another cell instead of every thing in a cell.

  11. Oq says:

    big like ! Problem solved

  12. Scott says:

    Svetlana,
    When I want to see text on 2 lines in excel I set the row height to 25 or 30. I then highlight the cells and make sure wrap text is on. When I highlight the columns and double click a line to auto size the cells the ones with one word split the word. The multiple word cells work after I set the delimeters to include comma and space in the text to column tab. Some of the sheets are too large to practically use alt-enter to create a hard break. Is there a way to get excel to not split the words here?

  13. Ankit says:

    Please tell us that when i write something but it crosses that cell please tell us shortcut key of wrap text.

  14. Brad says:

    Thank you so much. This was very helpful to me regarding inserting a break manually.

  15. Joe says:

    There is also a keyboard method for text wrapping which involves "Enter" as one of the key combinations.

    I just can't remember the other key.

    I've tried Shift, Ctr and Alt......in vain.

    Regards,
    Joe.

  16. v.stella says:

    Not Working in Wrap Text in excel
    Please teach me about the wrap text
    alt+enter is this shortcut key

  17. Hugh says:

    The "Wrap text" feature sometimes expands the cell height with a further blank line. This happens when the text is nearing the end of a line. Is there any way to stop this, other than manually resizing the row? I find that once you've manually re-sized a row, it will no longer auto-wrap.

  18. Shabbir says:

    Dear Teacher,
    MyCell (Suppose A1) has fixed column width. "Mycell" is linked to an other "InputCell" (Suppose G1). When I type large amount of text string in InputCell, it exceeds the to A1, B1 and some times C1.
    Is there any way to keep the only text in A1 which it can contain and other extra text to be shifted to A2 and A3 and so on.
    Regards,

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