Tip of the week # 458
1 September 2015

How to add, find and remove line breaks (Microsoft Excel) *

I don't think I ever wrote a tip about how to add spacing between lines or paragraphs of text in Excel, but ALT + ENTER has definitely been a shortcut of the week on my home page and can be found in the shortcut archive. (Simply double-click where you want to insert the line break and press ALT + ENTER.)

But what if you inherit or import a file with lots of line breaks and you want to find and remove them?

Here's how:

  1. Press CTRL+H to open the Find and Replace dialog box. (Or press CTRL+F if you just want to find the line breaks.)
  2. In the Find what box, press CTRL+J. (The box will look empty, but if you are very observant you will see a tiny flashing dot.)
  3. Press the TAB key on your keyboard, to move to the Replace with box. (Or use your mouse if you must ;)
  4. Press the SPACEBAR. (This will help separate all words; if necessary you can afterwards replace two spaces by one space. If you really just want to delete the line breaks, leave the Replace with box empty.)
  5. Click Replace All.

Please note CTRL+J seems to stick in the Find and Replace dialog box, i.e. you will see the tiny dot unless you closed down Excel in the meantime. To get rid of it, press the Delete key. (Backspace doesn't work.)

Finally, I just want to sound a note of caution as Microsoft Windows 10 is being offered to Windows users free of charge. Over the years I have run a lot of Microsoft Windows training sessions and recently quite a few people have asked me whether or not to upgrade to Windows 10. As you may be aware, Windows 10 was launched on 29 July 2015 and is offered as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. Apparently more than 75 million PCs were upgraded to Windows 10 in the first month alone! But if you upgrade immediately you are a guinea pig, so perhaps you might want to wait some time for any teething problems to be sorted out. You have a full year to decide whether or not to upgrade for free. I'm investigating whether or not it is worth upgrading to Windows 10. I'll report back when I've looked into the changes and know more.

* Unless stated otherwise, these tips were written for Microsoft Office 2010.