Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Entering Text: Trespassing Allowed
Figure 2–20. The A column, selected for widening
You must bring about that double-arrowed pointer in order to widen the column; but it should
appear automatically as soon as your mouse arrives atop the right boundary. Then click the boundary,
and drag to the right (don’t release the left mouse button). As you do so, the column should expand,
revealing ever more of the text. And as you drag, a caption accompanies the action, tallying the current
column width both in units of text characters and pixels (this bit of information is usually of little more
than academic importance most of the time; just bear in mind that the default width of an Excel column
is set at 8.43 characters, for historical reasons). When you’ve achieved the desired width—presumably
after all the hidden text has been brought to light—you can release the mouse. Nothing stops you from
widening—or narrowing—the column again, by dragging it again to the right or even to the left. If you’ve
accidentally clicked on the left boundary of the column you want—which is, after all, the right boundary
of the column to its left—then that column will be widened instead.
Bring your mouse to that same right column boundary, make sure the double-arrowed cross is in
view, and this time double-click. The column will automatically resize itself to reveal all the data in the
column. Known as Autofit, this rather efficient device is a time-honored means for solving the
hiddentext problem. Note that Autofit modulates the column to make sure to reveal what is currently its widest
entry, fitting itself snuggly to that entry’s width; and so if you delete that item from the column and
perform another Autofit, the column may narrow , as it hugs what is now the widest entry.
Now for an important variation on the Autofit theme, here’s a scenario you might very well have to
confront. Suppose you’ve entered the months of the year, and your data look like Figure 2–21:
Figure 2–21. Columns in need of widening—or narrowing
The problem is clear: some of the longer month names have barged into the cells to their right, and
these happen to be occupied by months of their own. Thus the same column-width issue emerges; but
what’s new here is that we can conduct an Autofit on several columns at the same time.
To make this happen, click the first of the column headings—A—hold the mouse button down, and
drag across the remaining headings (again, don’t drag across row 1 on the worksheet; you need to select
the headings). Your worksheet would look something like this, as shown in Figure 2–22:
 
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