Change Font in Excel Column Headers

Do you ever wish that the letters in the Excel column headers were bigger? Did someone send you an Excel file, with a different font in the headers, and you can’t figure out how they did it?
Here’s how you can change the settings in a workbook, so the column and row headers look different.
[Note: If you’re trying to fix column headers that appear as numbers, click here: Column Headings Show Numbers]

The Default Settings

When you create a new file in Excel, the row and column headers are displayed in your workbook Normal Style’s font. The Normal Style’s font is also used in the worksheet cells, unless you select a different format in some or all of the cells.
In my workbooks, the default font is Arial Narrow 11. In the screen shot below, you can see that the column and row headers are in that font, and so is the data in cells A1 and B1.

Change the Normal Style Settings

If you find the default font size too small, or if you’d prefer a different type of font, you can change the Normal Style settings.

To change the Normal font in Excel 2010:
  1. On the Excel Ribbon, click the Home tab
  2. In the Styles group, click Cell Styles, to open the Cell Styles palette.
  3. Right-click on the Normal style, and click Modify
    • headerfont02
  4. Click the Format button, and select the font and font size you want for the Normal style.
    • headerfont03
  5. Click OK, twice, to close the dialog boxes.

Crazy Column Headers

It’s too late for this year, but you could use this technique to fool your colleagues on April 1st next year. You know that guy who thinks he knows everything about Excel? See if he can figure this out.
Change the Normal font to a graphic font, such as Wingdings, and the row and column headers will turn into pictures, like the happy/sad faces shown below. Then, send the file to your co-worker, and ask him to check the numbers in the Sad Face column. Ha!
Remember to format the cells in a non-graphic font, such as Arial, after you change the Normal style, so the data is readable.
You’ll find more Excel tips and solutions in the Excel Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section of the Contextures website.