Formatting Cells in Excel

A Tutorial on Formatting Cells in Excel

How to use Cell Styles, Number Format, Font Settings and keyboard shortcuts to format cells in Excel.

How to Format in Excel


Cells in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet can be formatted using tools similar to word processors with bold, italics, strikethroughs, etc, but with additional options for formatting as currency, percentages, dates, times, zip codes, phones numbers and more.

All formatting options are easily found on the Home tab of Excel or by right-clicking a cell and choosing the Format Cells option.

Left-clicking the bottom corner of the Numbers Format group brings up the same options as right-clicking a cell and choosing Format Cells.

Formatting styles can also be copied from one cell to another using the Format Painter.

Cell colors, sizes, fonts and more can be formatted by clicking the options on the Font group such as clicking on B to bold or I to italicize or by holding down the control key on your keyboard with your cell selected and pressing the letter B on you keyboard bold or the letter I to italicize.

Formatting Cells in Excel using Cell Styles

You may find it easier to use the Cell Styles options in the Styles group. The Cell Styles can format colors, size, font type and more just by clicking on one of the pre-set options.

For formatting of general items just select your text or numbers by clicking on the cell you want to format and click Cell Styles and select the style that you feel will work best. This can also be used to change the format of numbers into currency or percentages.

As you hover over each of the options you can see a preview of what your cell will look like with that particular style selected.

If you choose an option you don’t like you can go back into the Cell Styles and choose another option or click Normal to revert the cell to a standard cell format. You can also use the eraser button on the Editing group to remove the formatting.

If the contents of the cells overlap each other you can select the cell rows or columns with the left mouse button then click the Format button in the Cells group on the home tab and choose Auto Fit Column Width or Auto Fit Row Height.

How to format cells using Cell Styles
How to format Excel using Cell Styles

Formatting Cells in Excel using Font Settings

Excel Font Settings group
Excel Font Settings group

The Font Settings group – which appears on the Home tab of Microsoft Excel – contains most of the formatting option you will need to format text or numbers. There are option to bold, underline, double-underline, increase or decrease font size, change font type and color and change cell color. Tou can also also place or remove borders around cells.

More options can be chosen by clicking the bottom right of the Font Settings group. You can then choose strikethough, superscript and subscript.

The Font Settings can be easily used by clicking on the cell you wish to format and selecting the desired formatting options from the group as shown in the example below.

How to format Excel using Font Settings
How to format Excel using Font Settings

Formatting Cells Using the Number Format group in Excel

Excel Number Format group
Excel Number Format group

The Number Format group has the options for formatting numbers as Currency, accounting-style dollar amounts, percentages, fractions, Zip Codes, phone numbers and more. You can use the Number Format group to increase or decrease the number of decimal places in a number.

To use the formatting options just highlight the cells you wish to format by selecting them with the left mouse button and then clicking on the appropriate buttons on the Number Format group or use the drop-down menu or click the right corner of the Number Format group from even more options.

Clicking the button will default to no decimal points for percentages and two decimal points for currency. The default option when clicking on the dollar sign is to use the accounting format which puts the dollar sign at the far right of the number. If you use the drop down menu and choose currency the dollar sign will be right against the number.

See the animation below to see this in action.

How to format cells using Number Format group
How to format cells using Number Format group