Adjust Excel Column Widths to Fit Specific Cells

I have a quick tip for you today, that might make your worksheets look a little better.

When numbers don’t fit in a cell, Excel shows number signs instead. You can point to a cell that’s filled with number signs, and the value will usually appear in a popup box.

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That gets a bit tiresome though, and it doesn’t help if you need to print the worksheet.

Problems With AutoFitting the Column

A quick way to make things fit is to double-click on a border in the column headings. In the screen shot below, I’ve selected columns E and F, and will double-click on the right border of the column F heading.

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That automatically adjusts the widths, to fit the widest item in each column. Now column E looks good, but column F is much too wide – it fits the text in cell F1.

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I’ll undo the column adjustment, so that they go back to the previous widths.

Focus on Specific Cells

Instead of selecting the entire columns, you can select specific cells, and adjust the width to fit those cells.

  • Then, select cells E9:F9 – the cells with numbers that don’t fit.
  • On the Ribbon’s Home tab, in the Cells group, click Format
  • Click AutoFit Column Width

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The columns width will adjust to fit the widest items in the selected cells, instead of the entire column. That’s much better!

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