How to Merge Cells in Excel and Google Spreadsheets

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Merge Cells in Excel and Google Spreadsheets

Merge and Center Cells of Data in Excel and Google Spreadsheets
Merge and Center Cells of Data in Excel and Google Spreadsheets. © Ted French

In Excel and Google Spreadsheets, a merged cell is a single cell created by combining or merging two or more individual cells together.

Both programs have options to:

  • merge cells horizontally
  • merge cells vertically
  • merge cells both vertically and horizontally.

In addition, Excel has the option to Merge & Center data which is a commonly used formatting feature when creating titles or headings.

Merge and center makes it easy to center headings across multiple worksheet columns.

Merge One Cell of Data Only

Merge cells in both Excel and Google Spreadsheets has one limitation - they cannot merge data from multiple cells.

If multiple cells of data are merged, only the data in the upper left most cell is kept - all other data will be lost when the merge occurs.

The cell reference for a merged cell is the cell in the upper left corner of the original selected range or group of cells.

Where to Find Merge

In Excel, the merge option is found on the Home tab of the ribbon. The icon for the feature is entitled Merge & Center, but by clicking on the down arrow to the right of the name as shown in the image above, a drop down menu of all merge options opens.

In Google Spreadsheets, the Merge cells option is found under the Format menu. The feature is only activated if multiple adjacent cells are selected.

In Excel, if Merge & Center is activated when only a single cell is selected, the only effect is to change that cell's alignment to center.

How to Merge Cells

In Excel,

  1. Select multiple cells to merge;
  2. Click on the Merge & Center icon on the Home tab of the ribbon to merge cells and center data across the selected range;
  3. To use one of the other merge options, click on the down arrow next to the Merge & Center icon and choose from the available options:
    • Merge & Center;
    • Merge Across (merges cells horizontally - across columns);
    • Merge Cells (merges cells horizontally, vertically, or both);
    • Unmerge Cells.

In Google Spreadsheets:

  1. Select multiple cells to merge;
  2. Click on Format > Merge cells in the menus to open a context menu of merge options;
  3. Choose from the available options:
    • Merge all (merge cells horizontally, vertically, or both);
    • Merge  horizontally;
    • Merge vertically;
    • Unmerge.

Excel Merge and Center Alternative

Another option for centering data across multiple columns is to use Center Across Selection located in the Format Cells dialog box.

The advantage of using this feature rather than Merge & Center is that it does not merge the selected cells.

In addition, if more than one cell contains data when the feature is applied, the data in the cells is centered individually much like changing the alignment of a cell.

As with Merge & Center, centering headings  across multiple columns often makes it easier to see that the title applies to the entire range.

To center heading or title text across multiple columns, do the following:

  1. Select a range cells containing the text to be centered;
  2. Click on the Home tab of the ribbon;
  3. In the Alignment group, click the dialog box launcher to open the Format Cells dialog box;
  4. In the dialog box, click on the Alignment tab;
  5. Under Text alignment, click the list box under Horizontal to see the list of available options;
  6. Click on Center Across Selection to center the selected text across the range of cells;
  7. Click OK to close the dialog box and return to the worksheet.

Pre-Excel 2007 Merge & Center Shortcomings

Prior to Excel 2007, using Merge & Center could cause problems when making subsequent changes to the merged area of the worksheet.

For example, it was not possible to add new columns to the merged area of the worksheet.

Before adding new columns, the steps to follow would be:

  1. un-merge the currently merged cells containing the title or heading;
  2. add new columns to the worksheet;
  3. re-apply the merge and center option.

Since Excel 2007 however, it has been possible to add additional columns to the merged area in the same manner as other areas of the worksheet without following the above steps.

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Your Citation
French, Ted. "How to Merge Cells in Excel and Google Spreadsheets." ThoughtCo, Jun. 5, 2017, thoughtco.com/merge-cells-in-spreadsheets-4060484. French, Ted. (2017, June 5). How to Merge Cells in Excel and Google Spreadsheets. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/merge-cells-in-spreadsheets-4060484 French, Ted. "How to Merge Cells in Excel and Google Spreadsheets." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/merge-cells-in-spreadsheets-4060484 (accessed December 13, 2017).