Thursday, May 31, 2012

Excel 2010: A Cell Full of Notes

Excel is great for math, but it is also great for organizing lists and making notes.  Let’s compare cats.

I’ve made a small table of four cat breeds:  Cornish Rex, Persian, Scottish Fold, and Siamese.  The Breed is in Column A, the description is in Column B.  The problem is that while the breed fits easily into a cell, the descriptions runs off the screen.


First, we want to size our cell so it prints the way we want it.  Hover the mouse over the column divider until it turns into the expansion arrow.  Drag the cell width until it is about 30. 

Another method is to set a specific column width using Format Cells menu which we’ll need later.  Let’s set it to exactly 30.  (30 what?  I’ll have to google that one.)  First select Column B by clicking on it.  Now go to the Home tab>Cells section>Format icon.  The Cells section is near the right side.  On the menu that appears, select Column Width.  Type 30, and click OK.

That has set the width, but our text still doesn’t fit within the cell.  First we want to set the cell to “wrap” the text within the cell edges.  Start with one cell, the Cornish Rex description in B2.  Select that cell.

Find the Wrap Text on the Home tab>Alignment section.  Hover your mouse there and you’ll get a bit of a description.  Not much, but a bit.

Now click the Wrap Text icon.  Look at that!

Excel figures you wanted to resize the row, so it did.  To do this manually, just in case the row height ever gets mixed up, select the cell and go back to our Home tab>Cells section>Format icon.  This time, instead of assigning a specific column width, click Autofit Row Height (sort of self-explanatory, isn’t it?).

Now set the whole column to wrap by selecting the entire Column B and clicking Wrap Text again.

I don’t really like the way the text is aligned in Column A.  Let’s change the vertical spacing of the cell so it is centered – not horizontally, but vertically.  Click Column A, and then pick the vertical alignment center icon in the Home tab>Alignment section. 

That looks much better, at least to me.

One last tip, let’s say you want to edit the text.  It doesn’t exactly fit on the formula bar, does it?  Click the expand arrow, circled in red.  Now the formula bar is much bigger.  You can stretch it even more by pulling down the sizing bar just above the column letters.

Now, let’s go pick a cat. 

Link to Persian Breed
How about a Persian?

Actually, let’s pick one up at a local shelter.  My favorite is the Irvine Animal Care Center.  Here are the two cats I got there. 

All breed information is quoted directly from the Cat Fanciers’ Association breed standards.