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Using Vertical Text in Excel 2013

written by: •edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 12/22/2015

Excel 2013 offers numerous text and cell formatting options, including options to change text orientation. This option conserves horizontal cell space by rotating lengthy text vertically.

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    Depending on your preferences, you can rotate the full text 90 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise to make text vertical, or you can stack non-rotated characters on top of one another, which is the method used in this example.

    As an example, say you have a lengthy text field that repeats for multiple rows. By making the text vertical, you not only save screen and print space, but the relatedness of the data is more obvious by applying a single label to a block of text.

    1. Highlight the cells containing the text you want vertical.

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    Unfortunately, simply applying the vertical text effect would result in a massive expansion of cell heights, so you’ll need to make a few changes before continuing.

    2. Right-click the highlighted cells and click Format Cells.

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    3. Click the Alignment tab, adjust the Text Alignment according to your preferences, check the Wrap Text and Merge Cells options and click OK.

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    1. This example changed several formatting options:
    • Horizontal Text Alignment:  This option controls where text appears horizontally in the cell. By making it centered, any empty horizontal space is evenly distributed on either side of the text. This option is no different than centering text from the Home tab’s Alignment group.
    • Vertical Text Alignment: Similarly, this option controls where text appears vertically. In this example, the text will be centered vertically in the cells.
    • Wrap Text: Checking this option allows text to wrap to the next line or column, assuming there’s not enough space to display all the text vertically. The example text is lengthy, so enabling this option is a must; otherwise, excess text is either truncated or forces the rows to messily expand.
      TIP: For more control over wrapping, insert hard returns between words by pressing Ctrl-Enter at your preferred wrapping point when entering or editing the text.

    Merge Cells: Checking this option combines all the highlighted cells into one large cell. Only text in the upper left cell is kept; all other text is discarded. In the example, this is exactly what you want.

    4. Click OK to the warning regarding the merging of cells.

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    Now you are ready to apply the vertical text affect.

    5. Click the Orientation button from the Home tab’s Alignment group and select Vertical Text. This option stacks each character, rather than rotating the text. The other options, Rotate Text Up or Rotate Text Down, turn the text counterclockwise or clockwise, respectively.

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    After selecting this option, you might find that there is still not enough room for the text. One option to fix this is to reduce the font size. To maintain consistent text size, however, you’ll need to expand the row heights.

    6. Click and drag your mouse over the row numbers to highlight each row.

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    Although you could simply expand a single row height, by selecting all rows, you distribute the expansion among all rows for better consistency.

    7. Right-click any highlighted text and click Row Height.

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    8. Enter a slightly larger number in the pop-up provided and click OK.

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    In this example, the row height was originally 15. By changing it to 16, you only slightly change the row heights, but because the change is applied to every highlighted row, it’s enough to accommodate the lengthy vertical text.

    TIP: You might need to experiment for the best results. If you don’t like the results, press Ctrl-Z to undo the change and try again.

    9. Click and drag the column divider to make the vertical text’s column narrower.

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    The result is a neater label that conserves screen or print space.

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