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Weekly Computer Tip # 86
30 October 2004

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Making the column width fit the contents (Microsoft Office)

One of the questions I am often asked is how I get my inspiration for my weekly tips. My answer is simple - you. Your feedback. Your suggestions. Your questions during training sessions. Today's tip comes from your wish-I-would-have-known-that-years-ago reactions.

Most people I work with who know how to change the column width - for instance, in Excel - do this by using the Format/Column/Width menu or by dragging the boundary on the right side of the column heading until the column is the width they want. However,

Did you know ...

Microsoft Excel provides a clever trick for making the column width automatically fit the contents of the column. This is particularly useful when you have a lot of rows -- if you manually drag until the column is the width you want, based on the 30-odd rows you see, Murphy's law is that when you get to row 65535 you have to repeat the action to make the contents fit that last row. So back to the clever trick ...

Here's how:

  1. Rest the mouse pointer to the right of the column heading you want to move until it becomes a double-headed arrow.
  2. Double-click.

To make the column width fit for multiple columns, select the columns you want to change, and then double-click a boundary to the right of one of the column headings. To do the same for all columns on the worksheet, click the Select All button (at the intersection of the column and row headings - this week's free bonus tip ;-) and double-click.

This trick works similarly in Access datasheet view, as well as tables in Word, PowerPoint and FrontPage. The crucial bit is the mouse pointing and waiting for the cursor to turn into a double-headed arrow.

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That's all folks. Enjoy the extra hour in bed tonight. And keep these tip ideas coming! If your tip is selected, I'll publish it along with your name; the bragging rights will last a lifetime.

Until next week.

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October 2004