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How do I change the line in an Excel spreadsheet?

Changing the line in an Excel spreadsheet is a common task that many users need to do. The line refers to the cell borders or dividing lines that separate cells in a worksheet. Being able to customize these lines by changing their style, color, or width can help make your data more organized and easier to read.

Why would you want to change cell borders?

There are a few main reasons you may want to change the cell borders or lines in an Excel spreadsheet:

  • Emphasize or highlight certain data – Changing the lines around important cells or ranges can help draw attention to key data or totals.
  • Organize data visually – Styling cell borders can allow you to group related data together so it’s easier to distinguish parts of your spreadsheet at a glance.
  • Make spreadsheet more readable – Adjusting cell borders can help separate and structure your data so it is easier to read and interpret.
  • Print formatting – Tweaking cell borders can help format your printed spreadsheet so the separations between cells are clearer.

Being able to update cell borders gives you more control over the look of your Excel data for both on-screen viewing and printing. The ability to highlight certain cells and organize data into sections makes your spreadsheets less cluttered and easier to navigate.

How to change the line style

To change the line style for cell borders in Excel, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell(s) you want to modify.
  2. On the Home tab, go to the Font group and click the arrow next to Borders.
  3. Select the type of line you want from the drop-down menu.

This will allow you to pick from line styles such as None, Solid, Dashed, Dotted, Double lines, and more. You can apply the selected line style to all four borders of the cell or specify individual borders.

How to change the line color

To update the color of the lines around cells in Excel:

  1. Select the cells you want to adjust the border color for.
  2. Go to the Home tab and click the arrow next to Borders.
  3. Click on Border Color at the bottom of the drop-down menu.
  4. Pick the desired color from the color palette.

This will set the color for the lines of the currently selected border style. You can make the cell borders stand out more by choosing a darker color or fading them into the background with a lighter color.

How to change the line width

Changing the width of the lines in Excel is easy to do:

  1. Select the cells to adjust the border width for.
  2. On the Home tab, go to the Font group and click the arrow by Borders.
  3. Hover over Line Style at the top of the menu.
  4. Choose the desired width (Hairline, Thin, Medium, or Thick).

The line width will apply to the currently selected border style for the chosen cells. Wider lines can help emphasize separations between cells.

How to change lines for specific cells

To modify the lines and borders for only certain cells:

  1. Highlight the cells to change.
  2. Right-click and choose Format Cells from the context menu.
  3. Go to the Border tab.
  4. Click the arrows to select the desired style, color, and width for each border side.

This will open a formatting window that allows you to customize the appearance of each individual cell border separately. You can set different styles, colors, and widths for the top, bottom, left, and right borders for the selected cells.

How to add inner lines

Besides the outer borders, you can also add vertical and horizontal lines inside cells:

  1. Highlight the cells to add inner lines to.
  2. On the Home tab, go to the Font group and pick Borders > Draw Border.
  3. Choose where to add a vertical or horizontal line and draw it in with your mouse.

This will insert divider lines spanning the selected cells. You can then use the steps above to adjust the inner line’s style, color, and width.

How to copy line formatting

Once you have formatted cell borders to your liking, you can quickly replicate the style:

  1. Select the cell(s) with the border formatting you want to copy.
  2. Right-click and choose Format Painter.
  3. Click on the cells you want to apply the copied border formatting to.

This will copy the border style, color, and width from the initial cells to the selected new cells.

How to control text wrap and alignment

Cell borders affect how text wraps and aligns within the cell. To manage this:

  1. Right-click the selected cells and pick Format Cells.
  2. Go to the Alignment tab.
  3. Adjust the Text control settings as needed.

For example, you can change Vertical alignment to Top or Bottom to prevent text from being cut off by top and bottom borders. The Wrap text option can wrap text so it fits within cell borders.

How to remove cell borders

To quickly remove lines from cells in Excel:

  1. Select the cells to remove the borders from.
  2. Go to the Home tab and click the arrow by Borders.
  3. Pick No Border from the dropdown menu.

You can also reuse steps mentioned previously to change the line style to None or white color to invisible the lines while keeping the formatting intact.

Shortcut to manage lines in Excel

Shortcut Description
Ctrl + Shift + _ Remove cell borders
Ctrl + B Apply bottom border
Ctrl + Shift + & Apply top border
Ctrl + Shift + _ Apply left border
Ctrl + Shift + + Apply right border
Ctrl + Shift + | Apply outside borders
Ctrl + Shift + – Delete horizontal divider line
Ctrl + Shift + : Insert horizontal divider line

These handy keyboard shortcuts provide a quick way to add, remove, and manage cell borders without going through the menus.

Tips for working with cell borders

  • Be consistent with borders to keep your spreadsheet clean and organized.
  • Avoid using too many different line styles and colors.
  • Print a test page to ensure borders show up as intended.
  • Make important borders thicker and consider highlighting key cells with color.
  • Reset custom border formatting before sharing workbooks with others.
  • Adjust cell alignment to prevent borders from cutting off text.
  • Use borders to delineate different data areas in large spreadsheets.


Learning how to change cell borders and lines is an important formatting skill in Excel. The ability to customize border appearance by adjusting styles, colors, and widths gives you greater control over the look of your spreadsheets. Focus on using borders to enhance readability and bring out important data visually. With the handy formatting options and shortcuts in Excel, you can quickly manage cell lines and borders to organize your data effectively.

The key points to remember are:

  • Cell borders help highlight and separate data in spreadsheets.
  • Lines can be formatted with different styles, colors, and widths.
  • Specific cells can be modified individually via Format Cells.
  • Formatting can be copied across cells quickly.
  • Keyboard shortcuts provide quick access for common border tasks.
  • Consistency and minimizing clutter are best practices with borders.

With the ability to fine-tune cell borders in Excel, you can produce spreadsheets that are visually cleaner and easier to comprehend. Formatting lines appropriately for the data can go a long way in making your workbooks more effective.