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Adding a bit of extra padding to your cell boundaries can make it easier for you to read through data in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. If you want to add extra white space between text and cell borders, here’s how.

Adding Extra Spacing Between Left and Right Cell Borders

To add the extra space you need between the borders of a cell and the data held within it, you’ll need to align your text or numbers using an indent. Formatting your cells to do this will give you an extra gap between your cell border and the start of your data.

To start, open your Excel spreadsheet and select the cells you want to format. Right-click on the cells you’ve selected and then click the “Format Cells” button.

Right-click on your cells in Excel, then click Format Cells

This opens the “Format Cells” options box. From here, you can edit everything from your cell number type to the font style. Click on the “Alignment” tab and then open the “Horizontal” drop-down menu in the “Text Alignment” section.

For extra space between cell text and the left or right cell border, click “Left (Indent)” or “Right (Indent).” Click “Distributed (Indent)” to have equal spacing between both the text and the cell borders on both sides.

In the Format Cells dialog box in Excel, click on the Alignment tab and click on the "Horizontal" dropdown menu, underneath the Text Alignment section

In the “Indent” box, select the size of your additional spacing. Click the up and down arrows or type a number in the box.

Once you’re ready, click the “OK” button to save any changes.

Confirm your cell border indent spacing, then click OK

The additional padding between your text and cell borders will be applied to your selected cell range.

In the example below, we’ve applied a distributed indent to the cell borders in column B, using four spaces, to allow for equal padding between the cell text and the left and right cell borders.

A table column in Microsoft Excel with indented cell borders

With this cell formatting applied, the cell values keep the extra padded boundaries against the cell borders, even if you change the width of the column manually.

Adding Extra Spacing Between Top and Bottom Cell Borders

If you want to add extra spacing between your text and the top and bottom cell borders, you can also do this from within the “Format Cells” options box. As before, select your cell range within the spreadsheet, right-click on the selection, and then click “Format Cells.” In the “Alignment” tab, click on the “Vertical” drop-down menu.

Select “Top” to align your cell data to the top of your cell, “Center” to ensure an equal gap between the top and the bottom, or “Bottom” to align your text to the bottom of your cell.

Click “OK” to apply the new formatting to your cells.

Select your top or bottom text indent options from the vertical dropdown menu in the format cells box

Depending on the option you’ve chosen, your cell data will now be aligned to your chosen option. If you’ve chosen to use the “Center” option, this will align your text to the middle of the cell. You can see this in action by changing the row height to allow for a “taller” row.

RELATED: How to Set Row Height and Column Width in Excel

In the example below, each of these options has been used with a string of text containing the alphabet.

A table of cells in Google Excel with cell formatting for top, bottom and center text indenting applied

You can combine horizontal and vertical text alignment for your cells if you’d prefer. This allows you to apply additional spacing between your cell data and each of your cell borders.

Ben Stockton Ben Stockton
Ben Stockton is a freelance tech writer from the United Kingdom. In a past life, he was a UK college lecturer, training teens and adults. Since leaving the classroom, he's been a tech writer, writing how-to articles and tutorials for MakeUseOf, MakeTechEasier, and Cloudwards.net. He has a degree in History and a postgraduate qualification in Computing.
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