[EXCEL] Have you ever tried to use the Tab key to indent the data within a cell — as you can do in a Word document? Then you quickly noticed that all it did was move your cursor to the next cell in the spreadsheet. It didn’t move your text over at all.


Block of content without indenting

As in the example image to the right, you may have a spreadsheet that has lists — with headings and content, but the cells are all left justified so it makes it harder to read. There’s not much differentiation in the categories of information.

Indenting the text under the headings would make it much easier to see the hierarchical nature of the list.

So how do you indent content within a cell in your spreadsheet? You just have to know where to look. There’s an

Indent feature that moves your content farther away from the cell border — in one click!

NOTE: In prior versions of Excel you needed to know the magic keyboard shortcut of pressing CTRL+Alt+Tab to shift the content two spaces to the right.

Indent Cell Content


See how much easier the list of information is to read when some of the text is indented.

When you want to indent the content in one, or more cells:

  • Click to highlight one or more cells.
  • In the Home tab in the Alignment section click the Increase indent button (it has an arrow to the right). This indents the content two character spaces.
  • To indent more, just click the Indent button again.
  • NOTE: If you change your mind, you can use the Decrease Indent button (to the left of the Indent) to move the content to the left, closer to the cell border.

NOTE:  Please notice how we’ve also used the indent feature to give white space to the left of the bold category headings. We did this so that the text wasn’t tucked up right next to the border (as seen in the “before” image) and would therefore look a little more sophisticated.

Set Specific Cell Indenting Space

If you want to set the specific cell indenting distance so that your content is moved further from the cell border, there’s another way.

  • Select the cells you want to format.
  • Right-click and select Format Cells.
  • Click the Alignment tab.
  • Under Text alignment, in the Horizontal box, select Left (indent). And then in the Indent drop down box pick any whole number between 1 and 15.


Google Sheets

At this time there is no easy “indent” option in Google Sheets. There is a work-around to this by using the script editor, but it is beyond the scope of this tip.