Free Excel Tutorial for Engineers : Right Click

Excel provides a variety of formatting options that help you to make your spreadsheets more presentable. Most of these options can be availed using the right click. The following section allows you to understand the requirement and a step by step process of some of the basic but very useful formatting options.

Format Cells: The most commonly used formatting option is the ‘Format Cells’. This option helps you to change the cell format to text, number, date, etc. It also aids us in tracking other formatting options like text alignment, orientation, cell borders or shading (fill). To go to the format cells option right click on the cell and select the format cells option. This opens the format cells dialog box. Following is the description of the options provided under format cells.

Number Tab: The first tab under cell formatting is ‘Number’. This option helps you to select what type of data can be fed into a particular cell. The options provided range from number to date, percentage to accounting. It also allows you to create customized formats as per your requirement. The Number formats and date formats are the most used options while working with excel data. Number: When working with numbers in a spreadsheet you may observe that while performing simple calculations excel provides us with results with varying precision points. In such cases you may require to increase or decrease the precision of these results. To change the precision of your results go to number tab in format cells, select the number option and set the required decimal places in the space provided.


Date Format: Since Excel has been developed in US the standard date format is set to the US format (MM/DD/YYYY). In the number tab, by using the custom settings you can select the Indian date format. To select the date format select the number option, select the custom option from the list of options and type the date format (DD/MM/YYYY) in the space provided.


Alignment Tab: The second tab, ‘alignment’ allows you to arrange the data fed in the cells in a more presentable manner. The following are the most used options. Text alignment: While creating a spreadsheet it is normally preferred to align text to the left, numbers to the right and headings to the center. The text alignment option under format cells provides this facility. To change the text alignment, select the alignment tab and change the alignment according to your requirement under the text alignment options. With the options provided under ‘horizontal’ you can align the text to the left (Left (indent)), right (Right (indent)), Center, Justify, etc. With the ‘vertical’ options you can align the text to the Top of the cell, Bottom of the cell, Center of the cell, Distribute the text evenly inside the cell, etc. Wrap text: It is normally observed that when you type some information in a particular cell in a worksheet the text tends to spill out into the neighboring cells. This in turn causes the text to look haphazard and makes the layout almost unreadable. The wrap text option remedies this problem by aligning the text in the particular cell by adjusting the cell height and automatically wrapping the text to multiple lines. To wrap text select the alignment tab and check the wrap text box under the text control options.


Merge Cells: Many a times you would like to enter a common heading for 2 or 3 columns/rows. When you try typing it in a cell above the first column you won’t be able to align the text to the center of all the required columns. The merge cell option allows you to combine the selected cells and align the text to the center of the cell. To merge cells select the alignment tab and check the merge cells box.


Center Across selection: Sometimes when you use the merge text option, you may not be able to copy paste data easily or the cell alignment might change if you insert / delete a column. To remedy this problem excel provides the center across selection option. By using this option you don’t need to merge the cells but the data can still be centered across different columns. To center the data across a set of cells select the center across selection option from the drop down menu of the horizontal options under the text alignment options in the alignment tab.


Text Orientation: The excel trick of changing text orientation in excel, is very useful, when you want to display more information in less space. To change the orientation of the text, select the alignment tab, where you will find the orientation option on the top right hand corner. By changing the degrees the text orientation can be changed from horizontal to diagonal to vertical.

Font: The third tab, ‘Font’ allows you to edit the Font properties like selection of Font, its Style, Height, Colour etc. Also it allows the user to set effects such as strike through, subscript, and superscript when required.


Border: The standard spreadsheet doesn’t contain any lines or border. Thus when you print the file the data will be printed without any separators and thus would look jumbled and thus unreadable. Excel provides the option to insert border to the spreadsheets that you create, aiding you to make it attractive and easily readable. To insert borders to the spreadsheet select the border tab to create customized borders for your spreadsheets. For example, you can insert border column wise or you can insert borders only for a set of selected cells. Excel provides you with standard options like outline and inside border. It also provides various line types to make the spreadsheet very attractive.


Fill: Excel also provides you with the option to fill different colours in the cells which makes the table look eye-catching and also helps you to highlight cells as per requirement. This is facilitated by the Fill tab in the format cells dialog box.


Column / Row Formatting: Apart from the above mentioned formatting options there are some more important formatting functions on the right click that are used very often. Some of these are mentioned below. Row Height / Column width: The row height option allows you to set the row height as per your requirement. This option will allow you to have a standard row height for all cells and won’t require you to drag each row to set the height. Similarly the column width can also be set according to the requirement. To change the row height / column width, select the rows/columns, right click and select the row height / column width option from the list. This will open the row height or column width dialog box. Enter the required row height or column width in the space provided and all the selected rows / columns will be set to the defined measurements.


Insert: It sometimes happens that you may skip a row or column while entering data or that you may need to enter information in between the data already present. For such cases excel provides the option to insert rows / columns /cells. To insert rows select the row where a new row has to be inserted and select the insert option. The same can be done to insert the column. You can also insert cells by right clicking on the cell and selecting insert option which further provides us option for where the cell has to be inserted.


Delete: While working on a spreadsheet you might want to delete some rows or columns. You can delete rows or columns by right clicking on a row / column and selecting the delete option.


There are a lot of other formatting options in excel which have been explained in the following chapters. Note: Each of these options is also provided in the top ribbon. The right click option just helps you to find everything in one place and thus speeds up the process.