How To Wrap Text in Google Sheets

Although there is a word processing program provided by Google — Google Docs — sometimes filling out your Google Sheets spreadsheets can seem like you’re writing a novel. There are instances when text heavy data entry is unavoidable. For instance, you might need to add the synopsis of a book in a publishing company’s publication masterlist. Or maybe you’re making longer notes on the data in another column. In these cases, depending on what your spreadsheet settings are, the text will either be cut off by the border of the cell or spill out into the neighboring cells.

For those who need to see the complete sentence or paragraph in the cell, this does not make for an attractive spreadsheet. Additionally, it can make it frustrating to read your text quickly since you’ll have to click the cell and scroll through the text one line at a time. So, instead of solving this problem with soft returns or expanding the column width to unsightly widths, you can wrap text instead.

Text Wrapping

There are two ways to move forward with wrapping your text. First, you can only format with text wrapping when you need to. Or second, you can change the text format settings on the entire sheet before you start. That way, you won’t have to worry about making these changes later on, especially if you’re including lots of longer text.

Format Entire Spreadsheet

You may want to adjust the text wrapping settings before you start any data entry if you know that you need to see all the information, including longer phrases.

  1. To change the text wrap settings on the entire spreadsheet, press Ctrl + A on PC or Command + A on Mac to select all. This should highlight the entire sheet.
  2. Go to Format > Text Wrapping > Wrap.

This method can also be used once you’ve finished filling out the spreadsheet but notice that you have lots of overflowing cells. Once you select this format, it will automatically detect the cells that need to be readjusted and wrap the text inside.

Format Individual Cells

Adjusting the text wrapping for an individual cell is a similar process to formatting the entire spreadsheet. This is useful if you only need to access the full text of a cell occasionally.

  1. Select the affected cell.
  2. Go to Format > Text Wrapping > Wrap.

Keep in mind that text wrapping is not necessarily reserved for long sentences. Many times, you might see headers with subtitles or additional instructions. To keep the column width narrow, the text can be wrapped and stacked on top of each other.

Unwrapping Text

The other options under Text Wrapping will either allow text overflow or text clipping to occur. If you need to unwrap the text to keep the spreadsheet spacing tight or because you do not need to view the full text, you can choose either of these options.

  • If you select Overflow, the text will overflow until the cell to the right is populated.
  • If you choose Clip, the text will automatically be cut off according to the boundary of the cell itself.

Conclusion

If you are wondering why Google Sheets does not default to the text wrapping feature automatically, it’s because spreadsheets are not necessarily used for large amounts of text, but rather short bits of data. When you reach the point where you need the wrapping feature, it is a matter of aesthetic personal preference and how available you need the full text at all times. Fortunately, your options are easily accessible to you regardless of what you’d like to do!