How to format cells in Excel?

In Excel spreadsheet, you can format individual cells and ranges of cells in various ways. Formatting is setting up how your cells should look and which format should be set up for cell’s content.

Formatting cells in Excel

All commands for cells formatting can be found on Home tab on the Ribbon:

Formatting cells in Excel

When you select specific cells or cell range, which you would like to format, there are multiple ways to open Format cells dialogue window:

  • Right mouse klick and select commands Format cells:
Formatting cells in Excel
  • Use key shortcut CTRL + 1
  • Select dialog box opener on the Home tab of the Ribbon:
Formatting cells in Excel
  • Select Format cells command, which is located on the Home tab of the Ribbon in Cells group:
Formatting cells in Excel

Formatting options in Excel

The basic options for formatting cells in Excel are: changing the cell color, changing the font type, size, style and color, creating cell(s) borders, text alignment and changing the format of data entered in cells.

Font formatting

Font formatting options are available in the Font command group of the Home tab:

Formatting font in Excel

The default font in the Excel spreadsheet is Calibri, however, Excel provides many other fonts that you can use to customize the data on your worksheet.

Changing font type

To change the font, you need to select cell(s) you want to modify and expand the drop-down list with the names of all available fonts. Then, you just need to select the one you want to use:

Formatting font in Excel

You can get live preview of new chosen font by hovering your mouse over available options.

Changing font size

The default font size in the Excel spreadsheet is 11. To change the font size select cell(s) you want to adjust, then click drop-down arrow to choose any size available in the list or enter the desired size manually in the field highlighted below in blue:

Changing font size

You can also quickly change the font size using the special Increase / Decrease Font Size commands available in the Font command group:

Changing font size

Changing font color

To change the font color, expand the drop-down list available in the Font Color command group:

Changing font color

To select a custom color not available in the suggested options, select the More Colors command (highlighted in yellow on below screenshot), then a new window will open and you will get an option for configuration of the desired font color:

Bold, italics and underline

Bold, italics and underline options are also available in the Font command group:

Bold, italics and underline

The B, I, U icons make the text bold, italic and underlined, respectively.

The above options can be quickly applied using the following keyboard shortcuts:
CTRL + B – bold
CTRL + I – italics
CTRL + U – underline.

Creating borders and fill colors of the cell

Creating borders and filling cells allows you to create clear and defined splits between various sections of your spreadsheet. This is very helpful option when, for example, we want to distinguish the header in the first row from other data.

Creating cells borders

To create a border for cell(s), select the cells to be modified and expand the Borders drop-down list:

Cells borders

After expanding the list, you can choose multiple types of borders, such as top, bottom, left or right only, all borders, only outside borders, or remove existing borders (no border).

By clicking small arrows next to the Line color and Line style commands, you can also specify the color of the created border and the line style.

Cells borders
Cells borders
Line Color options
Cells borders
Line Style options

Fill color of the cell

Fill Color command is also located in Font command group, next to Borders:

Cell Filling

Fill Color options are the same as in the Font Color, so not standard colors will be available to choose after clicking More Colors.

Text alignment

By default, all text data entered into spreadsheet cells is left-aligned, while numbers are right-aligned. This is illustrated by the example below:

Text alignment

Excel allows any change in the alignment of data in cells so that reading the contents of cells can become easier.

Commands for aligning text can be found in the Alignment group:

Text alignment

As you can see above, the text alignment commands are divided into two rows. The commands in the top line (marked in yellow) relate to vertical alignment, while the bottom line (marked in blue) determines how to align texts horizontally.

Cell styles

Instead of manual cells formatting, you can also use pre-designed, ready to use Excel styles. Cell styles are a quick way to change the design of cells in a sheet, and allow you to quickly and professionally format different sections of the sheet, such as titles or headers.

Like all other formatting options, cell styles can also be found within the Home tab in the Styles group:

Cell styles

After choosing any style, you can see that the selected cells immediately changed their formatting style:

Cell styles

Types of data formats in Excel

One of the most important options when formatting cells in Excel is the ability to change the format of the entered data. There are several categories of data formats:

  • number
  • currency
  • accounting
  • text
  • date and time
  • percentage
  • fraction
  • scientific
  • special
  • custom

Data formats are important area of cells formatting, so you can read more about it here.

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