In Cell Text Formats – 2 Quick Tips

Posted on March 6th, 2012 in Excel Howtos , Huis , Posts by Hui - 11 comments

Did you know you can apply any text effect to a single character or group of text characters within a cell ?


Select the cell

Enter Edit Mode by pressing F2

Move to the characters you want to edit,

Hint 1: Use Ctrl and the Left/Right Arrows to jump words left and right

Hint 2: Use Ctrl Home/End to Jump to the Start /End of the cells text

Select the text with Shift and Left/Right Arrows

Hint 3: Use Ctrl Shift and the Left/Right Arrows to Jump over and select words left and right

Apply the format, see below for a list of available formats

You can then move to other characters and edit them as appropriate.

Here is a quick demo:



Did you know you can apply any text effect to text as you enter it?


As you are typing some text try the following

Enter some text, as you are typing apply Bold (Ctrl B), Italic (Ctrl I), Underline (Ctrl U) to toggle the effects on,

Hint 4: Use the keyboard shortcuts,ย  Bold (Ctrl B), Italic (Ctrl I), Underline (Ctrl U) again to toggle the effect on/off as required

You can also apply color /font by using the appropriate menu drop down or Ctrl 1, Format Cells

Once again apply a format continue to type the text, apply/change formats as you go

Here is another quick demo:



What Formats are available

There are many Text formats that are available:

Bold – Ctrl B

Underline – Ctrl U

Double Underline – Ctrl 1 menu

Italic – Ctrl I

Font Color – Color Picker or Ctrl 1 menu

Font Size – Font Size Picker or Ctrl 1 menu

Super Script – Ctrl 1 menu

Sub Script – Ctrl 1 menu

Strikethrough – Ctrl 1 menu

Alt Enter – Add a second Line of text



There are many times where the use of in-cell text formatting is required

  • Highlighting Individual Characters or Words
  • Adding Footnote and other references
  • Writing Chemical Formulas
  • Writing Mathematical Formulas



There are a few limitations to what and when in-cell formatting can be applied

  • The limitations of these techniques is that it cannot be applied to characters of a cell where the cell is a formula
  • The formats canโ€™t be applied selectively by Conditional Formatting
  • The Cells background color applies to the whole cell and cannot be changed for part of the cell or on a character by Character basis
  • The Copy Cell Format tool does not copy in-cell text formats ๐Ÿ™



When have you used in-cell text formats to great effect ?

Let us know in the comments below.

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11 Responses to “In Cell Text Formats – 2 Quick Tips”

  1. Art says:

    Great tip (as usual).

    Taking this one step further, I've been trying to embed a bulleted list with hanging indents within a single cell, but have had no luck. Any suggestions on how to achieve it? Or is it really impossible?

  2. Cherrill Mears says:

    Thanks for the tip about F2, Shift, Ctrl, and the arrow keys. I didn't know to use them in the manner you described. However, I've been doing the same thing by selecting the cell, then selecting the text from the formula bar and editing it there.

  3. PremSivakanthan says:

    The Alt Enter comes in very handy. Often what I'll do is type a title in a big font (say pt 11) then alt enter, then write a small explanatory note under the title in a smaller font. It looks the money. Of course you can also use CHAR(10) as well.

  4. Keith Burns says:

    I have more of a question on this topic. I have a spreadsheet that is more of a record keeping tool. ie it has some numbers in it but I also have a "comments" column. I use a Word template that has some parts (ie the questions/sections) in BOLD but the comments I fill in in Plain text. When I fill in my template, copy, hit F2 (or double-click) in Excel and paste, I lose all the formatting. I've tried the option of "Keep source formatting" and while it does indeed keep the BOLD/Plain formatting, it puts the different questions/answers in different cells rather than in the one cell.

    Any ideas?

  5. Gregor Erbach says:

    Too bad that it is not possible to hyperlink only part of the text in a cell. Oh well, still better than Google Spreadsheets where you have to choose between text or hyperlink.

  6. Santhan says:

    "The limitations of these techniques is that it cannot be applied to characters of a cell where the cell is a formula" ------

    Is there any way where I can format some content in a formula ?

    For example,
    Cell A1 holds this formula: = IF(B10,"Going Upwards","Going Downwards")

    And now i want to colour Only '"Upwards" in green and only "downwards" in red. Any way of achieving this ?

  7. Sean L. says:

    Art - You could change fonts within the cell to Wingdings, then copy a good bullet character over using the Character Map. (I'd suggest you set up a cell template, though, because it's pretty labor intensive.)

  8. Okili says:

    You can use conditional formatting for your task

  9. Okili says:

    Oops, sorry I misunderstood.
    But anyway, your task can be solved by splitting "Going " in one cell and "Upwards" in another cell, and applying conditional formatting to the second cell. I don't think it will be possible to do the same only in one cell, without using VBA.

  10. Santhan says:

    Thank you Okili.

  11. Praveen says:

    Thanks, this was very helpfull. ๐Ÿ™‚

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