MS Excel: Data Too Long
for the Cell? Use Shrink to Fit & Let Excel Fix the Problem for You!

Ever have data in MS Excel that’s just a bit too long for the cell?

What happened?

Did the column widen to accommodate? Or, maybe you got the infamous ##### to let you know that the number didn’t fit. Oh, and let’s not forget everyone’s favorite: the old “convert the number to scientific notation.”

If the results of Excel’s attempt to accommodate the large data are not to your satisfaction, here’s an alternative you can try to see if you like it any better. (After all, too many columns with extra width may cause problems for printing later on in your day).

Excel has a cell formatting option called “shrink to fit.” Its effects on data look like this:

What it does is reduce the font size for the data piece that’s too long for the column. (Of course, there are limits and if the data is too long Excel will be forced to make some of the usual changes as well).

Also, should you increase the column width, Excel will automatically adjust the font size back up, maxing out at the original font size.

So, how do we “shrink to fit”?

That’s a good question, so let’s get to that part.

You need to begin by highlighting the cell(s), column(s) or row(s) that need this setting.

Next, we need to open the Format Cells dialog box. You could choose to…

Click the dialog box launcher in the bottom right corner of the Font group on the Home tab of the Ribbon

Right-click on your highlighted cells then choose Format Cells from the list

Ctrl + 1

At this point, you need to select the Alignment tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

In the Text Control section, select the Shrink to fit choice.

Click OK.

That’s it. Just one more tool to add to your toolbox when you’re handling long data in Excel!

~ April