One of the most common fears of Excel is getting unruly data files and not knowing how to quickly and easily format it to look nice. Here we will go over when and how to auto expand multiple columns in Excel.
Do you ever get a dump of Excel data where the content in cells runs over cell margins making the data unreadable? I’ve seen many files that come out looking like this one below:
If you’re anything like me, looking at this is frustrating because it should be in nice neat columns where each cell is expanded to the exact length needed to be able to clearly see the data in the cell.
You can follow our tips on manually expanding columns and go through each one, manually adjusting. This can take some time though (especially when dealing with data files with more than our 5 column headings in our convenient example above). Could you imagine doing that with say, 20 column headings? You might also not get it exactly right the first time either and have to adjust it multiple times until it looks right.
So, don’t waste your time with that when you need to auto expand multiple columns in Excel.
To follow the process in the image above, simply highlight all of the columns, making sure to highlight from the letters above Row 1 so that the whole column gets highlighted. Once this is done, hover your cursor on anyone of the dividing lines between the lettered heading for the column so that is looks like:
Then double click and boom! – all of your columns automatically adjust to the proper width to display the data in the cells below.
That’s it and you’re done! So, don’t fear those ugly looking data dump nor concern yourself with data running over the preset column with when doing data entry. You know have the tools to quickly and easily auto expand multiple columns in Excel.
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Lygia McMillan says
Awesome Tip!!! I have spent so much time re-spacing this is extremely useful!
Kevin Erdman says
Glad you found the tip useful! I hope we can help you with any other Excel questions you might have.
This doesn’t seem to work in 2016 excel any thoughts?
Kevin Erdman says
That’s interesting because it should work in 2016. If you are trying to get the columns to autofit the cell values, one thing you can do is:
Go to Home –> Cells Group –> Format on the home Ribbon. Then under Cell Size, click “AutoFit Column Width”
This should have roughly the same effect, but the tip in this article should apply to 2016 as well. I am not sure why it isn’t working for you. I will look into this further for you.