Excel Tutorial: How To Make Columns Smaller In Excel


When working with large sets of data in Excel, it can be crucial to make columns smaller in order to fit all the necessary information on a single worksheet. In this tutorial, we will cover the simple steps to adjust the width of columns in Excel, allowing you to efficiently organize and present your data.

In this tutorial, we will cover:

  • How to manually adjust column width
  • Using the AutoFit feature to automatically adjust column width

Key Takeaways

  • Adjusting column width in Excel is important for efficiently organizing and presenting data
  • Manually adjusting column width using the mouse is a simple and effective technique
  • The AutoFit feature in Excel allows for automatic adjustment of column width
  • It is essential to ensure data visibility after making columns smaller, and avoid excessive shrinking
  • Utilizing Excel functions and customizing default column width can enhance efficiency in working with large data sets

Understanding Column Width in Excel

In order to effectively work with data in Excel, it is essential to understand the concept of column width and how to measure and adjust it.

A. Explanation of the concept of column width in Excel

Column width in Excel refers to the horizontal measurement of a column, which determines how much space is allotted to display the data within that column. The default column width in Excel is 8.43 characters, but this can be adjusted to accommodate different types of data.

B. How to measure and adjust column width in Excel

Measuring and adjusting column width in Excel can be done in a few simple steps:

  • Measuring column width: To measure the width of a column, simply hover your cursor over the line separating two column headers until a double-headed arrow appears. The width of the column will be displayed in pixels.
  • Adjusting column width: To adjust the width of a column, place your cursor on the line separating two column headers. Click and drag the line to the desired width, or right-click on the column header and select "Column Width" to specify a specific width.


By understanding the concept of column width in Excel and how to measure and adjust it, you can effectively organize and display your data for optimal use and visibility.

Techniques for Making Columns Smaller

When working with data in Excel, it's important to have the ability to adjust the width of columns to fit your specific needs. Here are some techniques for making columns smaller:

A. Using the mouse to manually adjust column width
  • Step 1: Hover your mouse over the right edge of the column header until you see a double-headed arrow.
  • Step 2: Click and drag the column edge to the left to make the column narrower, or to the right to make it wider.

B. Using the AutoFit feature to automatically adjust column width
  • Step 1: Select the column or columns you want to resize.
  • Step 2: Go to the "Home" tab and click on the "Format" button in the "Cells" group.
  • Step 3: Select "AutoFit Column Width" from the dropdown menu.

C. Using the Format Cells dialog box to set specific column width
  • Step 1: Select the column or columns you want to resize.
  • Step 2: Right-click and select "Format Cells" from the context menu.
  • Step 3: In the "Format Cells" dialog box, go to the "Column" tab and enter the desired width in the "Width" field.

By using these techniques, you can easily make columns smaller in Excel to improve the readability and organization of your data.

Removing Blank Rows in Excel

When working with a large dataset in Excel, it is common to encounter blank rows that need to be removed in order to tidy up the spreadsheet and make it easier to work with. In this tutorial, we will explore how to identify and select blank rows, as well as techniques for deleting them from your Excel worksheet.

How to identify and select blank rows in Excel

Before you can delete blank rows in Excel, you need to be able to identify and select them. Here are a few methods for doing so:

  • Manually scanning the worksheet: One way to identify blank rows is to visually scan the worksheet for any rows that do not contain any data. This method can be time-consuming, especially for large datasets.
  • Using the Filter feature: Excel's Filter feature can be used to display only the blank rows in a dataset, making it easier to select and delete them. To do this, click on the Filter button in the Data tab, then uncheck all the values in the filter dropdown except for the blank option.
  • Using a formula: You can also use a formula, such as =ISBLANK(), to identify blank rows in Excel. This formula will return TRUE for any blank cells, which can then be used to filter and select the blank rows.

Techniques for deleting blank rows in Excel

Once you have identified and selected the blank rows in your Excel worksheet, you can proceed to delete them using the following techniques:

  • Using the delete key: The simplest way to delete blank rows is to select the entire row by clicking on the row number, then pressing the delete key on your keyboard.
  • Using the Go To Special feature: Excel's Go To Special feature can be used to select only the blank cells in a worksheet. To do this, press Ctrl + G to open the Go To dialog, then click on the Special button and choose the Blanks option. Once the blank cells are selected, you can delete the entire rows as mentioned above.
  • Using a macro: For larger datasets, it may be more efficient to use a macro to delete blank rows. This involves writing a VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) script that can automatically identify and delete the blank rows in a worksheet.

By following these methods, you can easily identify and remove blank rows from your Excel worksheet, helping to keep your data organized and easier to work with.

Best Practices for Making Columns Smaller

When working with Excel, it's common to encounter spreadsheets with wide columns that can make it difficult to view and analyze data. In such cases, it's important to know the best practices for making columns smaller without compromising the visibility of the data.

Avoiding excessive shrinking of columns
  • Avoiding truncation of data

    When making columns smaller, it's crucial to ensure that the data within the cells is not truncated. This can be achieved by adjusting the column width just enough to fit the content without cutting off any information.

  • Considering the type of data

    Depending on the nature of the data, it's important to consider the appropriate column width. For example, text-based data may require wider columns compared to numerical data.

Ensuring visibility of data after making columns smaller
  • Utilizing text wrapping

    When resizing columns, it's beneficial to use the text wrapping feature to ensure that all the content within the cells remains visible, even after making the columns smaller.

  • Adjusting row height

    In cases where the content spans multiple lines within a cell, adjusting the row height can prevent data from being hidden or cut off when making columns smaller.

Using shortcuts and quick techniques for efficient column resizing
  • AutoFit feature

    Excel offers the AutoFit feature, which allows users to quickly adjust the column width to fit the longest content within the cells. This can be a convenient way to resize columns efficiently.

  • Keyboard shortcuts

    Learning and utilizing keyboard shortcuts for resizing columns can significantly improve the efficiency of the process, saving time and effort.

Additional Tips and Tricks

After learning how to resize columns based on content and customize default column width, here are some additional tips and tricks to further enhance your Excel skills:

A. Utilizing Excel functions to resize columns based on content
  • Using the "AutoFit" feature:

    When you have a large amount of data in a column, the "AutoFit" feature can be a quick and efficient way to resize the column to fit the content. Simply double-click the right boundary of the column header or use the "AutoFit" option in the Format menu to automatically adjust the column width based on the longest piece of content in that column.

  • Utilizing the "Wrap Text" feature:

    When working with text that is too long to fit in a single cell, the "Wrap Text" feature can be used to display the content on multiple lines within the same cell. This can help in adjusting the column width to accommodate the wrapped text without affecting the adjacent cells.

B. Customizing default column width in Excel for future use
  • Adjusting the default column width:

    If you frequently work with specific column widths, you can customize the default column width in Excel. To do this, select all cells in the worksheet by clicking the square in the top-left corner of the worksheet, then right-click any column header and select "Column Width". Enter the desired width and click "OK" to set it as the default for all columns in the worksheet.

  • Utilizing templates for consistency:

    Creating custom templates with predefined column widths can help in maintaining consistency across multiple workbooks. By setting the default column widths in a template, you can ensure that every new workbook created from the template will have the desired column widths already in place.


In conclusion, making columns smaller in Excel is essential for optimizing the visual presentation of your data and ensuring all information fits neatly on the page. By following the steps outlined in this tutorial, you can easily adjust the width of columns to improve the readability and organization of your spreadsheets.

We encourage you to practice these techniques on your own Excel documents to become more proficient in managing column sizes. The more you practice, the more confident and efficient you will become in using this feature to your advantage.

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