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Add line breaks in Microsoft Excel

Excel Logo on a gray background

There are multiple ways to add line breaks in Excel, but none of them are obvious solutions. As with most problems in Excel, there are actually multiple ways to accomplish this. We will look at three different ways to add line breaks.

Add a line break

To add a line break, first click in the cell (or cells) where you want to add a line break.

click in cell

Click again on the exact location where you want to insert the pause. Since our example uses first and last names, we’ll click between the two to display them on separate lines.

click between first and last name

If you are using Excel on a Windows PC, press Alt + Enter on the keyboard. If you’re on a Mac, press Control + Option + Return instead.

alt + enter

You can repeat these steps to add additional line breaks. For example, if we want to separate a middle name on its own line, we repeat the steps by placing the cursor where we want and pressing Alt + Enter (Control + Option + Return on Mac).

repeat alt + enter

Automatic word wrapping with text wrapping

If you want to automatically break your lines as soon as you reach the cell border, you can instead rely on the Wrap Text tool to do it automatically.

Select all the cells you want to wrap this text by clicking in the first one and then dragging until you reach the last cell you want to wrap.

Click and drag

On the Home tab, click Text Wrap.

wrap text icon

Wrapping text in this way often leaves some unwanted results. For example, the text can be broken in places you don’t want. To fix this, expand the column by clicking and dragging the line next to the desired column.

click and drag to enlarge the cell

Add a line break after specific characters

Select all the cells you want to add a line break to.

Click and drag

On the “Home” tab, click Find and Select> Replace. You can also just use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + H to open the same dialog.

In the “Search for” field, type the character you are looking for. In our case, we are looking for the comma separating title names.

In the “Replace with” field, press Ctrl + J to add a carriage return. This inserts a line break in place of each comma.

ctrl + j

Click the “Replace All” button at the bottom to replace all commas with carriage returns.

Whichever method you used, your spreadsheet should now be easier to read at a glance.

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