The general arrangement of data is known as formatting. The contents of selected cells can be formatted in different ways. The quick way to format the data is to use the format toolbar . Font and cell attributes can be added from shortcut buttons on the formatting tool bar. If this toolbar is not already visible on the screen, select View?Toolbars?Formatting from the menu bar.



Format Cells Dialog Box

For a complete list of formatting options, right-click on the highlighted cells and choose Format Cells from the shortcut menu or select Format?Cells from the menu bar.


  • Number tab – Numbers are formatted to change their appearance. Excel has many predefined numeric and date/time formats. The data type can be selected from the options on this tab. By default Excel’s cell format for cells is general except for date and time and number entered as percentage (8%). Primary reason to change is for display and printing.
  • Alignment tab – In an unformatted cell, you will notice that text aligns against the left edge of the column, and numbers align against the right edge.
  • Font tab – All of the font attributes are displayed in this tab including font face, size, style and effects.
  • Border and Pattern tabs – These tabs allow you to add borders, shading, and background colors to a cell.

Formatting Numbers

Excel has many predefined numeric and date/time formats. In addition you can design your own custom formats. These custom formats can contain characters and symbols that you specify. You can designate the decimal precision you desire and apply different colors. The format and color can be made to change according to the ranges of values in a cell. By default, Excel uses general numeric format, which means a number is displayed to the greatest precision possible. If the number is too large or small, the display appears in scientific format, such as 6.478E+05.The Number tab contains the Category box which determines the type of number format you want. This list has the following options:


This is the default format.

Number, Currency, Accounting, Scientific, Percentage

Decides the number of decimal places you want to appear. Enter the number of decimal places you want to appear or use the scroll keys to scroll value you want or select the currency format.

Dates and Times

If you enter the date “March 1, 2008” into a cell on the worksheet, Excel will automatically recognize the text as a date and change the format to “1-Mar-08”. To change this date format, select the Number tab from the Format –( Cells window. Select “Date” from the Category box and choose the format for the date from the Type box. If the field is a time, select “Time” from the Category box and select the type in the right box. Date and time combinations are also listed. Press OK when finished.

Alignment Tab

Besides using the alignment buttons on the Formatting toolbar, to be more precise or to perform various actions in one step, you can use the Alignment property page of the Format Cells property sheet:

To provide the same options as the Formatting toolbar, the Alignment property page is equipped with the Horizontal combo box. Besides the left, center, and right alignments, this combo box goes further and allows text to be justified. This can be useful especially if the text is significantly long. If you select to indent text, you can use the Indent spin button to specify the number of units to indent by.

The Vertical combo box provides options not available on the Formatting toolbar. It allows you to align the contents of a cell towards the top, the middle or the bottom area of a cell.

In this example, the numbers are center aligned and text is left aligned.


However, you can change the position and alignment of the data with the cell by alignment tab. The different types of alignments in Horizontal box are –


The Horizontal box includes these options:

  • General: To align text to the left and numbers to the right. This is the default setting
  • Left: Aligns cell contents at the left edge.
  • Center: Center aligns to the cell contents; within the cell.
  • Right: To align cell contents at the right edge.
  • Fill: To repeat the text to fill the cell.
  • Justify: To wrap the cell contents into multiple lines within the cell and also align cell contents to both edges.
  • Center Across Selection: To align cell contents in the center of a selected group of cells.

The Vertical box has the following options:

  • Top: To align entry with the top of the cell.
  • Center: To center the entry between the top and bottom edges of the cell.
  • Bottom: To align the entry with the bottom of the cell.
  • Justify: To align cell contents to both edges.

The Text Control section provides three options: Wrap Text, Shrink To Fit, and Merge Cells.

Wrapping Text

When you enter text that is too long to fit in a cell into a cell, it overlaps the next cell. If you do not want it to overlap the next cell you can wrap the text.

I am Learning Excel
  • Move to cell A2.
  • Type “I am learning Excel”.
  • Press Enter.
  • Click to cell A2.
  • Click on Format > Cells from the menu.
  • Select the Alignment tab.
  • Select Wrap Text.

Click on OK. The text wraps.

I am Learning Excel

Shrink to Fit

When cell entry is larger than the size of the cell then you can use The Shrink To Fit option to fit within the cell. In this option, the contents are reduced in size so as to fit within the cell.

  • Move to cell B2.
  • Type “I am learning Excel”.
  • Press Enter.
  • Click to cell B2.
  • Click on Format > Cells from the menu.
  • Select the Alignment tab.
  • Select Shrink to fit Text.

Merging Cells

The Merge cells option enables you to select a range of cells and include them into one cell.

  • Select the range of cells you want to merge.
  • Click the Format menu and choose Cells… . Select the Alignment tab in the Format cell dialog box.
  • Select the Merge Cells check box.
  • Click OK.


The Orientation section allows you to “bend” text by a fixed angle. There are two main ways you can set an angle. If you drag the small red diamond, you can use it to specify the desired angle. You can also specify a value in the Degrees: box between 99 and -99 degrees, use one of the arrows of the Degrees spin button to rotate the text.

Formatting Text

  • Select the cell or range of cell which you want to format.
  • Click on Format Menu and select Cells option.
  • Select Font from Format Cells dialog box.
  • Select font style from the font style list.
  • Select font size from the font size list.
  • Select underline style from the underline list.
  • Select color from the color list.
  • Select effect from the effect list.
  • Preview box displays the result whatever option you have selected.
  • Click OK.