How to Wrap Text in Excel Online

Text wrapping in Excel Online is essential for getting spreadsheets formatted just the way you want them. Like the desktop app, Excel Online provides a lot of flexibility in how tasks are completed and there are multiple ways to wrap text.

Wrapping text in Excel Online can be performed in several different ways, ranging from the home tab button, keyboard shortcuts, the contextual menu and advanced format options.

Excel Online has come a long way since it was introduced and now has many of the same features that Excel for Desktop has. We’ll dive into the different ways to perform text wrapping, from the quick click of a button to modifying advanced formatting techniques, and special cases where you can either manually wrap text or adjust the text wrapping behavior.

Let’s dive in!

What is Text Wrap or Word Wrap?

Text wrap, or word wrap, is a fundamental feature in Excel, Word, and other elements of the Microsoft Office ecosystem. It allows text to fall to a new line when it reaches the edge of a cell automatically. This prevents the text from spilling over into adjacent cells, which can obscure data and disrupt your layout.

The following example is a line of text that exceeds the borders of a cell, while the cell below it is set to text wrap.

Example of text exceeding a cell width and wrap texted for comparison

By wrapping text, you maintain the column width while ensuring that all content is visible, making your spreadsheet take up less space for printing, and make for a more concise presentation in some cases.

Excel Online vs Excel Desktop App

The Excel Online app offers the convenience of cloud-based editing, while the Excel desktop app provides a more extensive suite of features. When it comes to text wrapping, both platforms support this functionality, but the methods and interfaces differ slightly. In this article we’ll focus on Excel Online but many of the features are the same with the desktop application.

How to Wrapp Text in Excel Online

To wrap text in Excel Online, select the cell or range where you want the text to wrap, and click the “Wrap Text” button on the Home tab under the Alignment section. Text will automatically go to the end of the cell width and continue on to the next line making the expanding total row height to fit.

The wrap text button from Excel Online in the Home Tab of the Excel Online Ribbon

Once Wrap Text is clicked, the new resized cell will be shown with all of the text visible.

Example of wrapped text

The cell size should automatically re-size to fit all of the contents into a single cell, but keep reading if you run into any issues, we’ll cover some of the troubleshooting techniques for text wrapping in Excel when it doesn’t act as expected.

Excel Keyboard Shortcut to Wrap Text

To quickly wrap text in Excel using a keyboard shortcut, press ALT + H then W. This will automatically navigate to the Home Tab of the Excel Ribbon and select Wrap Text. The keyboard shortcut is available both in Excel Online and the Excel Desktop Application.

If you don’t currently utilize Excel Keyboard shortcuts, we highly recommend embracing them. Individually they can save you a few seconds here and there, but over a career of heavy Excel usage, keyboard shortcuts can save hours. The more you learn, the less you have to rely on your mouse to manipulate and transform spreadsheet data.

Wrap Text with Excel Online Contextual Menu

As an alternative to using the Excel Ribbon to wrap text, you can select a cell or a series of cells, right click on the selection and a contextual menu appears. At the top of the menu, there is a Wrap Text icon that looks like abc with an arrow to the right of the second line. Click this to enable Wrap Text.

Screenshot of the text wrapping button on the excel quick options menu

Microsoft collects telemetry data of how users interact with Excel and other Office Applications and studies which features are most commonly used. They take this data and occasionally adjust the user interface of Excel to make the most common functions easier to find and deploy.

Wrapping Text with the Format Options Menu

One of the biggest differences between Excel Online and the Excel Desktop application are how some of the menus interact. For example, to change Advanced Formatting settings in Excel Online, you can right click on a cell, select Format Cells and instead of a popup dialog box a panel on the right side of the screen expands with options to adjust different formatting options.

The Format Cells panel of Excel Online for advanced format options

To adjust text wrapping from the Format Options panel in Excel Online, navigate to the Alignment section, Text Control, and select Wrap Text.

Wrap text under advanced format options in Excel Online

This is probably the least efficient way to wrap text in Excel Online, but it’s important to know that there are many other advanced formatting options available under this menu panel. The panel system is more prevalent in other Microsoft software, such as Power BI but we expect that many of the design features in Excel Online will make it into the desktop application over the coming years.

How to Fix Excel Text Wrapping Not Working

If text wrapping is enabled or disabled in Excel but isn’t acting appropriately here are some common causes to look into.

  • Wrap Text Feature Not Enabled – Sounds obvious, but we’ve done it. Double check that it’s active.
  • Column Width Too Wide – The cells are wide enough that the text fits without wrapping to the next line.
  • Fixed Row Height – The row height is set to a specific value that doesn’t allow for the expansion of text.
  • Merged Cells – Merged cells won’t resize, and automatically center text causing text wrapping to not work.
  • Non-Breaking Spaces – The text contains non-breaking spaces which Excel does not wrap.
  • Manual Line Breaks – By pressing ALT + ENTER you can force text onto a second row to manually wrap it.

Understanding these potential issues can help users troubleshoot when they encounter problems with text wrapping in Excel.

Manual Line Breaks

When automatic text wrapping doesn’t suffice, manual line breaks give you the power to dictate exactly where your lines should split. By pressing ALT + ENTER within a cell, you can insert a line break at the specific point, granting you ultimate control over the cell’s content layout.

Tip: A similar technique can be used when writing Excel formulas. Instead of having one long formula that wraps automatically, you can press ALT + ENTER to split formulas into additional rows making them easier to read.

Conclusion

Wrapping text in Excel Online is an essential skill that enhances the presentation and readability of your spreadsheets. As Excel Online continues to evolve, there are fewer and fewer features that exist only in Excel for Desktop making it an even more useful platform, at a lower cost.

Basics text wrapping can be performed using the Wrap Text button on the Home Ribbon, by right clicking a cell and selecting Wrap Text, with a keyboard shortcut, or by launching the advanced formatting options panel.

When text wrapping doesn’t act as expected there are a number of items to check with the most common ones being the wrap text settings, manual column height adjustments, merged cells, or manual line breaks that override text wrap settings.

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