Excel - Insert a Line Break in a Cell

May 11, 2012

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:

Windows:

=A1&CHAR(10)&A2

Mac:

=A1&CHAR(13)&A2

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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Written by Joseph who loves teaching about Excel.

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