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When entering data in Excel, you’ll notice cells have limited space for displaying their contents. This can cause data to display cut off. Whether text or numbers, you can automatically resize cells to fit the contents.

You can certainly adjust the sizes of cells in columns and rows manually in Microsoft Excel. But for a quick way to shrink or expand cells to fit the text or numbers, you can use one of these easy automatic methods.

Automatically Resize Cells Using AutoFit

Microsoft Excel provides a feature called AutoFit that you can use to format cells in both columns and rows. We’ll show you how this works using an example.

Here, you can see our data is squished and unreadable for both our column headers and dollar amounts. So, we’ll expand the cells in these columns.

RELATED: How to Convert Currency in Microsoft Excel

Columns to widen in Excel

Select the columns you want to resize. You can drag through them with your cursor or hold Ctrl as you select each one. Then, head to the Home tab and Cells section of the ribbon.


Click the Format drop-down arrow and choose “AutoFit Column Width.”

Select AutoFit Column Width

And there we go! As you can see, those columns were expanded just enough to display the contents clearly for the headers and currencies.

Columns widened with AutoFit

The AutoFit feature works the same way for shrinking the sizes of cells. Maybe you have a column of single characters, as in our example below. We can gain some space in our sheet by making the cells smaller to fit the text.

Select the column(s), click the Format drop-down arrow on the Home tab, and pick “AutoFit Column Width” as described above.

Select AutoFit Column Width

And this time, you can see our column width decreased to accommodate the contents.

Decreased column width with AutoFit

You can use the AutoFit feature to shrink or expand cells in rows the same way. Simply select your row(s) and choose “AutoFit Row Height” in the Format drop-down list.

Select AutoFit Row Height

Automatically Resize Cells Using Your Cursor

Another quick and easy way to automatically resize cells in columns and rows is using your cursor.


Select the column(s) or row(s) that you want to shrink or expand to fit the contents. Place your cursor on the right side of a column or the bottom of a row. When you see the double-sided arrow display, double-click.

Double-click the double-sided arrow

Just like with the AutoFit feature, you’ll see your column(s) or rows(s) adjust to fit the contents. Whether the cells shrink or expand depends on how wide the text or numbers are.

Widened column with double-click

If you want to resize the cells for your entire sheet, this trick works just as easily. Select the sheet by clicking the triangle on the top left between column A and row 1. Then double-click when you see the double-sided arrows between both the columns and the rows.

Resize cells in a sheet

Manually resizing cells in Excel to fit your contents is helpful in many situations. But to see the data that’s cut off, quickly and with minimal effort, try one of these automatic resizing options.

For another way to see your cell contents clearly, learn how to add space between text and cell borders in Excel.

Profile Photo for Sandy Writtenhouse Sandy Writtenhouse
With her B.S. in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She learned how technology can enrich both professional and personal lives by using the right tools. And, she has shared those suggestions and how-tos on many websites over time. With thousands of articles under her belt, Sandy strives to help others use technology to their advantage.
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