What Are Three Ways to Change Column Width in Excel? A Guide

Changing the column width in Excel is a breeze once you know how. In fact, there are three simple ways to do it: using the mouse, using the ribbon, and using the keyboard. Each method is quick and easy, and by the end of this article, you’ll be an expert at adjusting those columns to fit your data perfectly.

Step by Step Tutorial: Changing Column Width in Excel

Before we dive into the steps, let’s understand why adjusting column width is essential. Whether you’re working with a small data set or a massive spreadsheet, ensuring that the information is clearly visible and well-organized is crucial. Adjusting the column width can help you achieve this, making your data more presentable and easier to analyze.

Step 1: Using the Mouse to Change Column Width

Click on the right edge of the column header and drag to adjust the width.
When you use the mouse to change the column width, you’re taking the most intuitive approach. Simply hover over the column line in the header until the cursor changes to a double-sided arrow, click, and drag it to the desired width.

Step 2: Using the Ribbon to Change Column Width

Go to the ‘Home’ tab, click ‘Format,’ and then select ‘Column Width.’
If you prefer a more precise approach, using the ribbon allows you to set a specific width numerically. After selecting ‘Column Width,’ a small window pops up where you can enter the exact measurement for your column.

Step 3: Using the Keyboard to Change Column Width

Select the column, press ‘Alt + O + C + W,’ then type the desired width and hit ‘Enter.’
For those who love keyboard shortcuts, this method is for you. This sequence of keys opens the same ‘Column Width’ window without taking your hands off the keyboard.

After completing these actions, your spreadsheet should look much cleaner and more organized. The data will be displayed clearly, making it easier for you to work with the information.

Tips for Changing Column Width in Excel

  • Double-clicking the right edge of the column header will auto-fit the column width based on the longest cell entry.
  • To adjust multiple columns at once, select the columns by clicking and dragging across the headers before changing the width.
  • Remember that the default measurement unit for column width in Excel is characters, based on the standard font size.
  • Use the ‘Undo’ function (Ctrl + Z) if you accidentally change a column width and need to revert to the previous setting.
  • If you’re working with a shared spreadsheet, inform your collaborators of any significant width changes to avoid confusion.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the maximum column width in Excel?

The maximum column width in Excel is 255 characters.

Can I change the default unit for column width from characters to inches or centimeters?

No, the default unit for column width in Excel is characters, and it cannot be changed to inches or centimeters.

Is there a way to set the same width for multiple columns at once?

Yes, you can select multiple columns and set the same width for all of them using any of the methods mentioned above.

Can I save my column width settings as a default for new spreadsheets?

No, Excel does not allow you to save column width settings as default. You will need to adjust the column width for each new spreadsheet.

How do I change the row height in Excel?

To change the row height, you can use similar methods: using the mouse, the ribbon, or keyboard shortcuts. Select the row and then adjust the height as needed.


  1. Change column width using the mouse by clicking and dragging the column edge.
  2. Use the ‘Format’ option in the ‘Home’ tab and select ‘Column Width’ to enter a specific measurement.
  3. Utilize keyboard shortcuts by pressing ‘Alt + O + C + W’ to quickly open the ‘Column Width’ window.


Mastering the art of changing column width in Excel can significantly impact how you present and work with data. Whether you’re a student juggling assignments, a professional dealing with complex spreadsheets, or just someone who loves organizing data, knowing how to adjust columns efficiently is a valuable skill. With the methods outlined above, you can tailor your spreadsheets to display information clearly, making it easier for you or your audience to interpret the data.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Don’t hesitate to experiment with different column widths until you find the perfect fit for your data. And if you ever make a mistake, the ‘Undo’ function is your best friend. As you become more comfortable with these techniques, you’ll find that they become second nature, allowing you to focus on the more critical aspects of your work.

So, go ahead and give it a try! Adjust those columns and watch as your spreadsheet transforms from a jumbled mess to a neatly organized masterpiece. Excel is a powerful tool, and with these tips under your belt, you’re well on your way to becoming an Excel pro.

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