How to Type a Paragraph in Excel

How to Type a Paragraph in Excel

Spreadsheets don’t need to contain just numbers. You can add sections of text, too. Here’s how to type a paragraph in Excel.

Spreadsheets aren’t just for numbers. If you’re creating an Excel spreadsheet, you may need to add a lot of text to your document. For example, if you’re preparing a report, you might want to add some text to the spreadsheet to explain what the figures and charts are showing.

Adding small amounts of text to cells in Excel is simple enough. However, when you want to add a paragraph or more of text, things can start to get tricky. Your text might get hidden behind other cells. On the other hand, it could expand beyond the cell that you want it to fit into. There are a few ways that you can add paragraphs of text to your spreadsheet and have them display exactly how you want them to. Here’s what you need to know about how to type a paragraph in Excel.

How to Wrap Text to Create a Paragraph

When you enter text into a cell in Excel, it usually creates one continuous line of text within the cell. If the text is longer than the width of the cell, the text will be visible only as long as there is no data in the adjacent cells. If the cell to the right contains data, the text that spills beyond your cell will not be visible. Changing the height of the cell manually won’t make any difference; the text will still extend in a straight line rather than filling the cell. However, you can use the Wrap Text tool to force your text to stay within the bounds of its cell and create a paragraph of text. This will automatically adjust the height of your cell to fit all of the text in.

  1. Select a cell and type your paragraph into Excel.
  2. If the text is longer than the width of the cell, the text will be visible over the top of the adjacent empty cells.
    excel text over cells
  3. However, if data is added to those empty cells, some of your text will be obscured.
    excel obscured text
  4. To fit your text to its cell, select the cell containing your text.
  5. In the Home ribbon, click the Wrap Text button.
    excel wrap text button
  6. Your text will wrap to fit the width of the cell. The row height will automatically adjust to create a paragraph.
    excel wrapped text
  7. To increase the width of the cell, click and hold the right-hand edge of the column header. Then, drag it to the right. You can do the same with the height of your cell.
    excel expand cell
  8. Your paragraph will be rearranged to fit the new size of the cell.

How to Type Paragraphs in Excel Using Line Breaks

The method above allows you to display a single paragraph of text in your Excel document. What if you want to include more than one paragraph, though? When you add more text to your cell, by default it will be added to the original paragraph. If you press Enter when you’re typing, Excel moves to the next cell down rather than creating a new paragraph. However, it is possible to type a new paragraph within your cell by using an Excel keyboard shortcut.

  1. Double-click the cell where you want to add a new paragraph. This will place the cursor at the end of the current text.
  2. Alternatively, select the cell. In the Formula Bar, place the cursor where you want the new paragraph to be created.
  3. Press Alt+Enter (on macOS, Option+Return.)
  4. The cursor will move down.
  5. You can choose to type your next paragraph here, or if you want to leave a blank line between paragraphs, press Alt+Enter (Option+Return on Mac) again.
  6. You can now type your new paragraph, which will appear as a separate block of text.
    excel line break
  7. If you used the Wrap Text tool as explained in the section above, when you press Enter, the height of your cell will automatically adjust to fit your text.
    excel line break fit to cell
  8. You can repeat the process as many times as you wish to create multiple paragraphs.

How to Add a Paragraph in Excel Using a Text Box

One downside of using the methods above is that to display your text, the size of the cell containing it needs to be adjusted. It means you end up with at least one row and column that’s much bigger than the rest. If you have numerical data in other cells in that same row or column, things can start to look a bit messy. A good way around this is to create your paragraphs of text within text boxes. This way, you don’t need to resize any of the cells in your document, as the text box floats above your spreadsheet.

  1. To add a text box to your spreadsheet, click the Insert menu.
    excel insert menu
  2. In the Text tools, click the Text Box button.
    excel insert text box
  3. Drag out your text box, remembering that any cells beneath your text box will become hidden.
    excel draw text box
  4. Once you have created your text box, click inside it and start typing.
  5. When you want to create a new paragraph, press Enter and the cursor will move to a new line.
  6. If you want a line of empty space between your paragraphs, press Enter again.
  7. You can now type your new paragraph.
    excel second paragraph in text box
  8. Repeat to add as many paragraphs as you wish.
  9. If your text ends up being longer than the height of the text box, when you click outside of the text box, some of the text will no longer be visible.
    excel text box overspill
  10. If this happens, click the text box and use the drag handles to increase the text box size until all of your text fits inside it.
    excel text box drag handle
  11. All of your text will now be visible inside the text box.
    excel text box resized

How to Create a Paragraph in Excel Using Fill Justify

Sometimes you may have separate lines of text in different cells. This may happen if you import text from another source, for example. This may also happen if you paste paragraphs from another source, such as a Word document, for example; each paragraph will be pasted to a separate cell. Rather than have each line of text in a different cell, you may wish to convert them into a single paragraph. It’s possible to do so using the Fill Justify tool, one of the many useful Excel fill tools. However, this method will only work if all the cells you want to combine are adjacent. If there are empty cells in between them, you’ll need to remove those empty cells first.

  1. Select the cells that contain the text you want to combine into a single paragraph.
    excel lines of text
  2. Click and hold the right-hand edge of the column label and drag to the right.
  3. You’ll need to extend the width of the cell far enough that all of your text can fit onto a single line. If you don’t extend this cell far enough, your text will get split over multiple cells instead of combining into one.
    excel expanded cells
  4. In the Home ribbon, click the Fill tool.
    excel fill tool
  5. Select Justify.
    excel justify
  6. The text from your cells will combine into a single cell.
    excel combined text
  7. You can now use the method from the first section of this article to wrap the text to fit your cell if you wish.
    excel combined text wrapped
  8. You can also copy and paste the text into a text box using the method above.

Typing Paragraphs in Excel

Knowing how to type a paragraph in Excel allows you to add blocks of text to your spreadsheets without the text getting hidden behind other cells. You can choose to fit your text into a cell by using text wrapping and expanding the cell to make room for the text. Alternatively, you can use a text box instead, which will mean that you don’t need to change the size of the other cells in your document. If you have data in the same row or column as your paragraphs, this may be a better option, as it won’t ruin the layout of your data.

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