Dawn Bjork Buzbee
The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Certified Microsoft Office 2010 Specialist (MOS 2010) Master Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office 2007 Specialist (MOS 2007) Master Instructor
Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office Expert
Certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE)
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Important data in Microsoft Excel is not just numbers and formulas
but also text. Whether the text is a column heading or a critical data
element, Excel includes many ways to improve the layout, appearance, and
value of text. Find out how to format text cells, combine data from
multiple cells, and other text formatting tricks.
1. Formatting Text Cells
If you are having problems sorting or filtering data lists, one of
the reasons may be that some data in a column is formatted as text and
some as numbers. In an ascending sort order, numbers and punctuation
will sort before text. For instance, entries of 22, 1111, 333 would sort
as 22, 333, 1111 if formatted as a number, and 1111, 22, 333 if
formatted as text (left-to-right). You will get inconsistent results
when a combination of formats exists. The Text format is also needed for
data that includes a fixed number of places or leading zeros such as
One plus in Excel is you can format cells prior to entering data.
This is true for text as well as numbers. To format entire columns for
text entry, highlight the column(s), then right-click on the column and
choose Format Cells. Next, pick the Number tab from the
dialog box, and then select the Text format, finish with OK. In
Excel 2010 and Excel 2007, the Text alignment choice is also
found on the Home tab (Alignment group) of the Ribbon. Apply the
Text format to existing cells as well for better sorting and
2. When Formatting Doesn't Work
To change a single entry to a text format, type an apostrophe (') in
front of the data.
3. Combining Two or More Cells (Sounds Like Cat)
Existing data may not be formatted exactly the way you need. For
example, if employee names are in 2 columns, Last Name and First Name,
but you want to display a full name for reporting as in Last Name, First
Name (Smith, Joe) there are several ways to do this. In the following
examples, Column B is Last Name and Column C is First Name. To create
the Full Name in Column D, the formula would be similar to (either
=CONCATENATE(B2,", ",C2) <----- CONCATENATE is a function that
"combines"; additional text like the comma is included in quotations.
=B2 & ", " & C2 <----- the & also combines the values in cells
B2 and C2.
4. Another Use of the Ampersand (&) in Excel and Access
In the above example, the ampersand (&) is a character used to
combine or add multiple entries. In Excel as well as Microsoft Access,
the & is also a special code which means a single ampersand won't work
in most text entries (the result is _ instead). To use an ampersand in a
header, footer, or label in Excel or Access, type 2 ampersands, such as
TIPS && TRICKS.
5. Wrapping Text
For multiple line entries of labels, comments, notes, or descriptions
in Microsoft Excel, select the cells (or an entire row or column),
right-click on the selection and choose Format Cells, pick the
Alignment Tab, and check the option for Wrap Text, finish
with OK. In Excel 2010 and Excel 2007, Wrap Text is also found on
the Home tab of the Ribbon. The column width will determine how
many lines are needed to display the text. Choose this over multiple
rows for lengthy text entries for greater readability and for any lists
of data. Once text is formatted to enable wrapping, you can further
control the layout by pressing [Alt] + [Enter] to force a line
break or new line within the same cell.
Try these tips and tricks to master your text entry in Microsoft
>>Microsoft Excel: 6 More Tips to Work
© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®
Dawn Bjork Buzbee
is The Software Pro®
and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office
Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist
(MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart
and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software
speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.
This article and
more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with
copyright and attribution.
more about how easy it is to share these valuable tips, tricks, and techniques.
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To change a single entry to a text format, type an apostrophe (') in front of
|Insert the TRIM()
function around formulas to remove extra spaces that might surround
a text entry