Home > Articles > Software Development & Management

Editing and Formatting

Merging Cells

You now have the ability to merge several cells into one cell. Although merging cells may appear similar to another feature in Excel for centering data across several columns, merging is in fact quite different. Figure 3.6 illustrates both merged cells 1 and centered data 2.

Merging physically combines several cells into one cell in the worksheet, similar to merging cells in a Word table. Centering data across several columns simply changes the display of the data; the cells remain unchanged.

When cells are merged, the uppermost-left cell reference becomes the reference for the merged cells. In the first example of merged cells in Figure 3.6, the cell reference for the merged cells is B2 (C2 and D2 no longer exist).

If the cells you select to merge contain data, only the data in the upper-left cell of the selected group of cells is retained when the cells are merged. Excel warns you that all other data will be lost if you proceed to merge the cells. In Figure 3.6, the cells B12 through B14 3 have been selected. The warning message 4 displays when you attempt to merge the cells. If the cells are merged in this example, only 2000 is retained, Sales and Subtotal are lost.

The Center Across Columns button available on the Formatting toolbar in Excel 5.0 and Excel 95 has become Merge and Center 5 in Excel 2000. When you use this button, the selected cells are merged and the data is centered in the merged cells.


If you just want to merge the cells, use the Merge Cells button 6 on the Alignment tab in the Format Cells dialog box (see Figure 3.7).

If you just want to center the data without merging the cells, use the Center Across Selection option in the Horizontal alignment drop-down list 7 in the Format Cells dialog box to center data across several columns.

Use the left, center, or right alignment buttons on the Formatting toolbar to change the horizontal alignment of data in the merged cells.


Some commands, such as inserting rows and columns, cannot be performed on cells that have been merged. The cells must be unmerged (split) before you can use these commands. To split cells, select the cell and clear the Merge Cells check box on the Alignment tab of the Format Cells dialog box (see Figure 3.7).

FIG. 3.6 Examples of merged and centered cells.

FIG. 3.7 The Alignment tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

Indenting and Rotating Data

To enhance the appearance of the data in your worksheets, Excel includes two new formatting options: indenting and rotating.

Data can be indented inside a cell, up to 15 levels. You can rotate data in a cell from 90 degrees to -90 degrees, at 1-degree increments, or display the data vertically.

To indent or rotate data, choose Format, Cells. From the Alignment tab of the Format Cells dialog box (see Figure 3.8), select the desired levels of indention 1 or degrees of rotation 2. Instead of rotating the data, you can also change its orientation to vertical 3.

You can also indent data with the Decrease Indent button 4 and Increase Indent button 5 on the Formatting toolbar.

Figure 3.9 shows an example of using rotating 6 and indenting 7 data to enhance a worksheet.

FIG. 3.8 Format Cells dialog box.

FIG. 3.9 Examples of indenting and rotating data.

AutoComplete and List AutoFill

The AutoComplete feature was added to Excel in version 95. When the first few characters you type in a cell match an existing entry in the column, Excel displays the remaining characters for you. The AutoComplete feature completes only text entries; it does not work with numbers or dates.

Similarly, when you insert rows (or columns) into a list, the List AutoFill feature extends any formatting and formulas from the previous row (or column) into the new row (or column). The List AutoFill feature works on all types of entries: text, numbers, and dates. Figure 3.10 shows a list before the Rate column is inserted. Figure 3.11 shows the same list after the column is inserted (using the Insert, Columns command). Notice how the formatting (background colors, borders) in row 3 1 has been extended to the new column.

Figures 3.12 and 3.13 show a new entry being added to the bottom of a list. When the hours are entered into cell E8 2, the formula multiplying RatexHours is automatically calculated in cell F8 3. The List AutoFill feature extended the date formatting (in column B) as well as the formula (in column F) to the newly entered data.


This feature works only in lists—that is, worksheets that contain contiguous data (no empty rows or columns).

FIG. 3.10 A list before a column is inserted.

FIG. 3.11 A list after a column is inserted.

FIG. 3.12 Adding new data to the bottom of a list.

FIG. 3.13 List AutoFill copies the formula automatically.

Validating Data Entry

The Data Validation command is a powerful feature that provides you with three options for controlling data entry:

  • You can control the data that can be entered in a cell by displaying a list of choices or placing restrictions (limits) on the entries.

  • You can create input messages that instruct users on the appropriate data to be entered in a cell.

  • You can display an error message if incorrect data is entered in a cell or have Excel draw circles around invalid entries in the worksheet.

These three options can be used separately or in conjunction with one another.

To validate the data that is entered in a cell, choose Data, Validation. There are three tabs in the Data Validation dialog box. In the Settings tab, shown in Figure 3.14, you select the type of data you want to allow in the cell. The validation criteria options 1 displayed on the Settings tab change based on your selection. If an incorrect entry is made (and you have not established an Input Message or Error Alert), a generic message appears indicating an invalid entry and the user can try again.


Specifying the type of data allowed in a cell does not change the cell formatting. You have to apply the appropriate format to the cell. For example, choosing a date restriction does not apply a date format to the cell. Choose Format, Cells to select the desired format.

The Input Message tab of the Data Validation dialog box is used to create a message that instructs users about the type of data that is expected in the cell. Figure 3.15 shows an example of a message entered in the Input Message tab; Figure 3.16 shows the input message 2 as it appears when the cell is selected.

The Error Alert tab of the Data Validation dialog box (shown in Figure 3.17) is used to create a message that displays when an invalid entry is typed. Figure 3.18 shows the error alert message that appears when you enter data that does not match the criteria settings you established on the Settings tab.

In addition to these options in the Data Validation dialog box, you can have Excel draw circles around invalid entries in the worksheet. You must establish Data Validation criteria (on the Settings tab of the Data Validation dialog box) to use this feature. Choose the Circle Invalid Data button on the Auditing toolbar to draw circles around cells in the worksheet.

FIG. 3.14 Settings tab of the Data Validation dialog box.

FIG. 3.15 Input Message tab of the Data Validation dialog box.

FIG. 3.16 The Input Message displays when you click on the cell.

FIG. 3.17 Error Alert tab of the Data Validation dialog box.

FIG. 3.18 The Error Alert message when you enter invalid data.

Applying Conditional Formats

Conditional formatting is a powerful number-formatting feature that makes it easy to format a cell based on the data in the cell. Conditional formatting is especially useful for highlighting the results of formulas.

With Conditional Formatting, the font style, font color, cell borders, and cell background color or pattern can be changed to accentuate numbers in your spreadsheet. You can specify up to three conditional formats for a cell. When a cell does not meet the specified conditions, it remains unchanged. This gives you four possible outcomes: the cell meets one of the three conditions (three outcomes) or it doesn't meet any of the conditions (the fourth outcome).

Figure 3.19 shows the appearance of a worksheet before and after conditional formatting. In this example:

  • If the % Change is negative, the cell displays light gray shading. The % Change for Colorado 1 has gray shading.

  • If the % Change is between 5% and 15%, the cell displays in bold font. The % Change for Ohio 2 is in bold.

  • If the % Change is 15% or higher, the cell displays in bold and italic. The % Change for Tennessee 3 is displayed in bold and italic.

There is no specific condition if the % change is between 0% and 5%, therefore the formatting that already exists in the cells for California and Maryland remains.

The Conditional Formatting dialog box, shown in Figure 3.20, lists the formats applied to the % Change cells in Figure 3.21. Choose Format, Conditional Formatting to access this dialog box.


If conditional formatting is added to a cell that has a formula, when the formula is copied, the conditional formatting is copied also.

FIG. 3.19 Conditional formatting example.

FIG. 3.20 Conditional Formatting dialog box.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020