Formatting is second nature with Excel because ergonomically you want people to notice the information in your data and not spend time finding it, either because it doesn’t stand out, or it blurs together. Recently I came across a new wrinkle with the indentation of cell contents and thought to share it with you here.
Alignment of Cell Contents
Numbers are aligned to the right side of a cell and text is aligned to the left side. In the picture below this works to blur the Pub Date and Link data together, making it difficult to read. Not good.
A simple fix is to select the data in the Link column and click the Indent button on the Home tab of the Ribbon.
One click of the Indent Button inserts a Left Indent, with an Indent value of one (1), as you can see in the Format Cells dialog box below.
This works well in making text more readable when next to a column of numbers.
There’s also a Right Indent, which works well with moving numbers away from the right side of the cell. This feature is utilized in the Format Cells dialog box. Note: only for Windows versions of Excel.
Just select the range of numbers you want to format, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+1 to bring up the Format Cells dialog box, select the Alignment tab, and under Horizontal click the drop-down arrow, select Right (Indent), then change the Indent value to one (1).
As you can see in the picture below, the Pub Date data has a Right Indent and the Link data has a Left Indent.
As you may have noticed in the screen-shot above, there’s a Distributed (Indent) option for Horizontal alignment. I didn’t test it, but wanted to point it out nonetheless.
If you’ve experience with this feature leave a comment and let us know how it works.
Note: Excel for Mac only has Left Indenting.