The QUICKEST & EASIEST Way to Work with TEXT in Excel

Justify Feature

When creating a solution for a user, it’s a good idea to give the user an instruction sheet.  This is not an issue in Word, but it can become a major headache to create in Excel.

If we were to create an instruction sheet that is designed to fit within the width of a single screen, we often end up with data that doesn’t respect the boundaries we’ve established.

A common solution is to cut-and-paste segments of the text onto separate rows to create a paragraph look to the text. (click image for larger view)

This may look good today, but if the information is updated, we may find ourselves back in the same situation.

Now we must manually adjust all the line breaks to accommodate the new text.

There must be a better way!!!

Let’s look at the Justify feature.

Excel Justify

If we have a lengthy set of text that we wish to contain between columns C through L, we need to highlight what we’ll call a “containment zone”; the area we wish to hold the paragraph-style text.

Since we are unsure as to the number of rows we’ll need to accommodate this text, we will highlight from column C to column L and down as many rows as we believe are necessary.

With the destination cells highlighted, select

Home (tab) -> Editing (group) -> Fill -> Justify.

Excel has figured out where all the necessary break-points are to create a paragraph-look for our text.

This is different from the Text Wrapping feature where the text is contained in a single cell; Justify breaks the text into segments and positions each segment in a separate cell.

Updating the Justified Text

If you need to update the text to include or remove text, you’ll find that the existing break-points no longer work for the updated information.

To fix this, re-highlight the cells that should act as the “containment zone” and reapply the Justify feature.

Altering the Paragraph Dimensions

If you change your mind and wish for the paragraph to be spread across fewer (or greater) columns, highlight the new “containment zone” dimensions and reapply the Justify feature.

A Note and a Warning

Note on Row Selections

If you select fewer rows that can contain the supplied text, you will receive a message indicating that the selected range will be extended.

You can either accept this adjustment or reject it.

Warning – Character Count Limitation

The Justify feature supports a maximum of 255 characters.  Any text after the 255th character position will be discarded.

If you Justify the text, then reverse the Justify feature, the lost text does not return.

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