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Aligning Cell Contents

To align the contents of a single cell or range of cells you can highlight the cells to select them and then click on one of the alignment icons to align to the left, right, centre or justify. 

Right align
Left align

These icons will only work on a single cell at a time, you cannot force the contents of cell A1 to right align with the edge of cell F1 by highlighting A1 to F1 and clicking the right align icon, if you need to do this you will have to first merge the cells.

It is possible to centre a cell’s contents over a range of cells and Excel provides an icon to do this.

  Centre across selection

If you highlight a row of cells and then click this icon, Excel will centre the contents of the leftmost cell over the whole range. You should be aware that if any other cells in this range contain data, that data will be lost when the leftmost cell contents are centred, Excel should give a warning that this is going to happen. If you want to centre all the cell contents in the highlighted range then you must first cut and paste the contents of the other cells to the top left cell of the range.

You can also set the alignment of text in cells using the Format drop-down menu and choosing Cells, clicking on the Alignment tab to view the window shown below .

Under the horizontal alignment box the following options are available:

Left (indent)
Centre across Selection

General:  In cells that have the default General format, text data is left-aligned, and numbers, dates, and times are right-aligned.

Left (indent):  If left alignment is used the text or number will align with the left edge of the cell. If the indent box is set to a value then the cell contents will be indented by that number of characters from the left.

Centre:  This centres the cell contents in the cell

Right:  This aligns the cell contents with the right-hand side of the cell

Fill:  This fills the cell with the text or characters you have entered repeatedly to whatever width is set, this was once useful for creating border and fill effects but is better done with the other cell formatting facilities now.

Justify:  If the text in your cell wraps onto more than one line you can use this alignment to make the contents line up straight on both the left and right edges of the cell.

Centre across Selection:  If you first select a range of cells, Excel will centre the text in the first cell across the whole range.

As well as setting horizontal alignment, it is also possible to set vertical alignment. The options available here are:


Top: This will push your cell contents up so that the data is displayed from the top of the cell downwards.

Centre:  This will position your data in the centre of the cell horizontally.

Bottom:  This will sit your data on the bottom of the cell.

Justify:  This will stretch your data out if it falls on more than one line so that it touches both the top and bottom of the cell.

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