Excel – Insert a Line Break in a Cell

When entering text into a cell, sometimes we’d like to insert a line break for better formatting. A line break is like when you’re in Word and you press Enter to create a new line. This can also be called a carriage return. We’ll cover two ways to do this.

  • Line breaks in plain text
  • Line breaks in cell formulas

One thing is certain, you shouldn’t use two cells for creating the illusion of line breaks.

Excel line break

Adding a Line Break in Plain Text

This one is easy. While you’re editing the text of a cell, you can simply press Alt+Enter (or Command+Option+Enter for Mac) to add a line break as shown below.

New Line for Plain Text

 NOTE: This will automatically set Wrap Text ON for cell A1.

Let’s take a look at what happens when you turn Wrap Text OFF:

New Line for Plain Text remove Wrap Text

Notice that in the formula bar the break is kept there, but it is one single line in cell A1. This is because Excel needs to format the break and Wrap Text is the way to do it. The formula bar is immune to show any formatting, but it will show you the data you have (in this case, some text, then a line break and some more text after). It’s just another way to show you that you have a break in the cell, but it’s not formatted to show it that way.

Adding a Line Break in Cell Formulas

To enter a line break in a cell formula, reference the text and concatenate it with the ampersand (or you can use the CONCATENATE() function) along with the function CHAR(10) to insert the break (CHAR(13) on Mac).  The CHAR() function takes in an integer and will show a character based on that integer.  Please see Microsoft’s page on the CHAR() function for more info.  The 10 (13 for Mac) in this case refers to the character “Line Feed.”

Let’s take B1 and add a formula to combine cells A1 and A2 with a line break in between them.  The formula to use is:

=A1&CHAR(10)&A2 (Windows)

=A1&CHAR(13)&A2 (Mac)

New Line for Formulas

Notice this time that Excel does not automatically turn on Wrap Text when we enter the line break as a formula.  You have to manually turn it on to get the formatting you want.

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  • Sebastian Viana

    I actually needed that the other day and could not figure it out. Thanks!!! now I know.

    • Hi Sebastian, I’m glad this helped you out! Please let me know if you have anything else you’d like me to discuss and I would be glad to write about it.

  • Here is the story continued. Sometimes you will need to eliminate all line breaks in a range. And you will find this is not a simple task if there are many of them. Here is a solution I came accross on the web.
    1. Non VBA method
    2. VBA method would be to just repeat actions listed by the Excel Addict with macro recorder turned on AFTER the range is selected (in order to make recorded macro universal).

    • Hi Eugeny,

      It didn’t occur to me that while I show people how to put line breaks in, I never showed them how to take them out! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • pk

    thanks, the ‘wrap text’ option worked for me when my referencing another cell that
    contains a ‘line break’


  • Doug

    Great article!

  • Thanks for the line break solution. I have been struggling with this for years. Never occurred to me to use the line feed character, although I am old enough to have used it in the olden days when coding for dot matrix printers…

    • Hi Adrian!

      Glad to see it helped out! It’s always seems to be the simple solutions that surprise us 🙂

  • My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a different web page and thought I might check things out.
    I like what I see so i am just following you.

    Look forward to finding out about your web page again.

  • Carol

    Hi Joseph, I like the style that you use to share your knowledge, it is nice to find something funny while you are learning 🙂 I love the funny pictures that you include in your posts.

    I need a little help with a task that I was given at my job. I have a spreadsheet with lots of records (name of institutions), but whoever created this file didn’t keep the case consistently. Some of the records are all in uppercase and some of them are in lowercase. I need to make them look correct now: first letter of each word should be uppercase. Is there anyway I can fix this without having to use code?



  • Robin

    I tried shift+enter and ctrl+enter before coming here to find out it’s alt+enter! Doh!

    • 🙂 you were so close!

  • Joe

    I’m using CHAR(10) in a formula like this:


    But when I click away from the cell, the formula is displayed and not the desired result. (Displayed as if it were text.) This happens for every formula using CHAR(10).

    I feel like I’m missing something really obvious. Help?

    • Joe

      My formula didn’t display in the post correctly.Trying again:


    • Hi Joe,

      I assume your formula is:

      If so, have you tried turning on Wrap Text in the cell that this formula is in? This is what I see:

      |    |

      It puts in an extra line at the end. Is this not working for you?

  • Hien Tran

    Hello Joseph,

    I have a cell using Wrap Text with contents like
    Could you please help me to split that cell into three rows using formula (without VBA)?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Hien,

      You would have to use 3 formulas, one for each cell to capture A, B, and C:

      =MID($A$1,1,1) < -- to get "A"
      =MID($A$1,3,1) < -- to get "B" (notice that I start on the 3rd character. that's because the 2nd character is the carriage return
      =MID($A$1,5,1) < -- to get "C"

      If you don't know you'll always have one character and you're just looking to split the text based on the carriage return, then say you had a cell (B1) that had this:
      this is some text
      this is some more
      here's some more

      You could use this formula in B2:

      Then this formula in B3:

      Be sure to enter that as an array formula. Then drag that formula down.

      • Hien Tran

        Thanks a lot, Joseph!
        I got it 🙂

  • Imran

    Thanks for this. Helped me at the right time!

  • Kate

    Thanks for the help.

  • meisha


  • samir

    Hello Joseph,
    please, I also need your help!
    I need line breaks (before RECODE; before END IF; before EXECUTE) in this formula because I want to copy this to SPSS and there it only works if everything is in a new line.
    How can I make this work?

    DO IF (FA1 <= 3). RECODE @1 (1=1) INTO @1_Int. END IF. EXECUTE.

    • Hi Samir,

      I don’t know what SPSS is, and from a quick Google search it looks like an IBM product. However, what I think you’re looking for is this:

      ="DO IF(FA1< =3)."&CHAR(10)&"RECODE @1(1=1) INTO @1_Int."&CHAR(10)&"END IF."&CHAR(10)&"EXECUTE."
  • samir


  • Fabulous! A great utility! Thank you!

  • Noel Whitemore

    Thanks Joseph – works perfectly for Excel on Mac 🙂

  • James

    Great info. But I’m trying to place a line feed within the custom format of a date.
    cell A1 has value 24/12/2014
    custom format for cell is ddd mmm dd which displays Wed Dec 24
    due to column size restrictions, wrap text doesn’t wrap like
    Dec 24

    I tried custom format of ddd “&CHAR(10)&” mmm dd
    I get
    Wed &CHAR(10)& Dec 24

    any ideas ?

    • Stevie_D

      There doesn’t seem to be any way to do that within the cell you’ve typed the date into. What you can do is to type the date into a dummy cell, set up lookup tables for the day and month names, and then in the cell where you want to display the date split over two lines, put something like this:

      =vlookup(weekday(a1),daylookup,2)&char(10)&vlookup(month(a1),monthlookup,2)&" "&day(a1)
    • Joseph

      Hi James, instead of using a custom date format, you can use:

      =TEXT(“24/12/2014″,”ddd mmm dd”)

      The only issue with that is Excel won’t treat it as a date anymore, which might not be what you want if you do any formulas against it.

  • jon

    This does not work. ALT+EnTER . And then to insert a formula each time I need a line break, come on!! I know Excel is not Word, but sometime in IT field with soo many different use cases for Excel this is ridicules . Guess what. I am currently uninstalling OFFICE, and installingto Lirbre Office Suite. At least that platform will do what is necessary for the job.

  • Roshan

    Thanks lot…

  • Tim

    Thank you, it worked first time, blood pressure returning to normal….

  • Luiz C. Penna

    Thank you so much. I needed that to fill an official document from the financial department of the company here. It worked like a charm. The excel had already a lot of programming, and we couldn’t change it right now.

  • Richard B

    None of the usual shortcuts for a line break in a cell work for me while running Windows 7 on a Mac.
    However, this works for me: =”Before line break”&CHAR(10)&”after line break”. Clumsy but at least it works

    Windows on a Mac: Don’t ever think of doing it, the two just are not meant for each other.

    • Joseph

      Hi Richard,

      Just curious, have you tried just using Option+Enter? According to this article (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202676) the Option key maps to the Alt key when using Windows on a Mac. It sounds like you might need to skip the Mac version of the shortcut and use the Windows version instead based on your setup.

      I don’t have the setup you do, so I couldn’t try this myself. I’m hoping this might help.

      Best of luck!

    • John Spessard

      Option + Command + Enter will create a carriage return for Apple excel users within an MS Excel cell.

  • EBounding

    Thank you for the Line Break formula.

  • Ricardo Chan

    Is it possible to find a word and replace it for word+carrier return?

    • Joseph

      Hi Ricardo,

      Yes, you can do that. Here’s a simple example to illustrate how.

      In cell A1 I have “Hi Joseph”

      In B1 I have the formula:

      And I have set B1 to be formatted to use wrap text.

      I am using the REPLACE() function to change the “Hi ” (including the space) to “Hi”&Char(10) where Char(10) is the new line character.

      The 1,3 part says to start at position 1 and move 3 characters over in the old text so the function knows where the replacement needs to happen. You can also use the Find() and Len() functions here to get the starting position of the word and the length of the word. I’ll definitely make a new post on those functions soon, so be sure to sign up for the newsletter if you want to see when that comes out 🙂

      I hope this helps!

  • Rombout

    Doesnt do anything, when i type i see the cells highlighted but after return the function just shows the cell with the code and nothing is done. Using OSX 2016

    • Joseph

      Hi, you’re right. I just tried it out on my Mac and realized that you need to use CHAR(13) instead of CHAR(10). I also updated the post. Thanks for pointing this out!

      • Rombout

        Well i also run into issue it always showing the formula, so that was also my cause. Eventually it worked, with CHAR(10)

        • Joseph

          Got it. Well, I’m glad you were able to get it sorted out!

  • aditi

    I am attempting to use TEXTJOIN function in excel and want to use delimiter as new line. How can I do it?

    • Joseph

      Hi Aditi,

      You can use the ASCII character codes CHAR(10) (linefeed) or CHAR(13) (carriage return) as in:


      Make sure to have Wrap Text turned on in the cell that you use this with.

      Hope this helps!

  • peter mukhin

    It was SO helpful, thanks a lot!

  • JonH2O

    This was at the top of search results for “how to make break point cell from text excel”
    I’m completely new to Excel, starting with a month trial (i may not have gotton the terminology right either, break point..)…I have a bunch of text in rows like


    Instead of going line by line and cutting the POOPxxxxxxxx text and pasting it into the next column I was wondering if I could do a script somehow that does it for me so everything starting with the POOP text (as the constant trigger) doesn’t move but the POOP plus all the text afterwords gets moved a certain way….

    • Joseph

      Hi Jon,

      That’s a lot of poop in your data 🙂

      You don’t need a script for that, actually. You can use a couple of text formulas to do the trick.

      Let’s say that this data is in A1 to A5:


      In cell B2, you would use:

      This would return:

      And in cell C2, you would use:

      This would return:

      I hope this helps,