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Turn Many Into One

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004 by | Filed Under: MS Excel

Turn Many Into One

“E pluribus unum” was the original motto of the United States—since it is National Flag Week, I thought I might mention that in light of today’s tip.

Here’s the scenario: you’re working on a table of data in MS Excel and you’re trying to put a title over the entire table.

What do you do?

I’ve watched a lot of people cope with this situation, and while their solutions were creative (putting extra spaces before the title, enlarging the title until it was over the entire chart, etc…), they certainly weren’t very efficient—or editor friendly.

So, if methods like that are your usual “thing” then you’ll want to know about a wonderful little thing known as “merging cells”.

To merge cells is to have Excel turn several cells into just one.

Basically it lets you turn this


into this


with just one click of a button.

Next time you’re trying to center something across several cells skip all the time-consuming stuff and remember to give it a simple one, two.

ONE: Highlight the cells you need to merge.

TWO: On the Formatting toolbar click the Merge and Center button.


And… E pluribus unum!

Many cells are now one.

If you type your title in this cell you’ll find it centered perfectly over your data—no extra spacing while you try to “eyeball” it to center, no off-centered titles.

Oh but wait—I can hear the gears in your mind turning right now.

Let me see…

You’re wondering how to reverse the merging process.

In fact, some of you may have tried to click the Merge and Center button in an attempt to separate the cells.

Didn’t work, did it?

Now that we know that’s not the answer to the problem, how do we separate the cells?

Well, this one’s a couple more steps—but still not bad.

First you’ll need to highlight the cell to be un-merged.

Next you need to open the Format Cells window. (Format menu, Cells choice or Ctrl + 1.)

On the Alignment tab you’re looking to uncheck the Merge Cells box.


Click OK.


The one cell is now back to many.

Too bad I don’t have one of these little merge buttons when I break a glass or dish or something. It’d be so cool to press a button and make everything perfect again. The ultimate crazy glue!

~ April

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