When you type a large amount of data or text into an Excel cell, one of two things occurs. If there is no cell to the right, the cell breaks its boundary and creates a long line of text which extends outward to the right. Otherwise, the text becomes truncated at the point where it bumps into the next cell. Using the text wrap feature, however, you can change this default behavior to wrap around to the next line, and show only that first row.

Setting Text Wrap

The Text Wrap setting tells a cell to extend vertically whenever text breaks the right-hand boundary. This setting is found in the “Format Cells” context menu. When modifying the cell format, you’ll get a dialog box with multiple tabs. The “Alignment” tab offers you the option to place a check mark next to “Wrap Text.” In this same dialog box, make sure the vertical alignment is set to “Top.”

After Text Wrap

By default, setting the text wrap resizes the cell vertically to fit all the text. To limit it solely to the first line, you’ll have to resize the row. You can do this by placing your mouse over the border between your text’s row and the row beneath. Click and drag to resize the row back to its original size, which is 21 pixels when using the default font and font size. Press "Alt-Enter" to break up lines of text within the cell. Everything after this break will be in the second row, regardless of how wide the cell is made.