Working with spreadsheets often requires adjusting column widths to display data correctly.
Columns can appear too narrow, causing text to spill over into adjacent cells. Or they may be too wide, wasting valuable screen space with empty white space.
While manually dragging columns can help you adjust column width in Google Sheets, there are also different ways you can autofit column width in Google Sheets.
When you autofit column width in Google Sheets, you can expect your worksheets to look neat and organized with minimal effort.
Today’s guide will show you different ways to autofit column width in Google Sheets. And guess what? You don’t need a ton of Google Sheets experience to make this work.
Let’s quickly look at why you might need to autofit column width in Google Sheets, then jump into the practical step-by-step guide to broaden your understanding.
Why Autofit Column Width in Google Sheets?
Adjusting column width is a common task in Google Sheets for several reasons:
- To fit long text strings/names/labels: Column titles or labels in the first row often need wider widths to display fully. Using autofit makes this easy.
- To size columns to data: Columns with dates, long numbers, or formulas need to be sized to fit the cell content. Autofit automatically sets the perfect width based on data.
- To eliminate blank space: Excessively wide columns with blank cells can be precisely sized down using autofit to reclaim wasted space.
- To create uniform columns: Autofit enables you to quickly make all columns match a consistent width, for a neater presentation.
- To instantly resize many columns: Manually adjusting one column at a time is time-consuming. Thankfully, autofit allows fast one-step resizing of entire sets of columns.
- To reformat imported/pasted data: If pasting or importing data into Sheets, autofit cleans up column widths to fit the new data.
Copy Sample Sheet
Learning to autofit column width in Google Sheets can be tricky. So, if you want to simplify the process, feel free to copy our sample sheet so you can follow along with this tutorial.
Using Double Click to Autofit Column Width In Google Sheets
While there are different ways to autofit column width in Google Sheets, one of the easiest ways to approach this is to use the double-click method. This method typically requires selecting all the columns you’d like to adjust the width for and then applying a simple double-click approach.
Let’s assume you have the data set below, and you are tasked with autofitting column A, which features organic product names; here is how you’ll go about it.
Step 1: Choose The Column to Autofit
The first thing we want to do is select the column we would like to autofit. For this example, we will choose column A (Organic Product Names)
Step 2: Position the Cursor on the Column Edge
Having decided on the column you’d like to autofit, move your cursor to the right edge of the column header (the area where the column letter is displayed).
Watch for the cursor to transform into a double-pointed arrow, indicating that you’re in the right position to adjust the column width.
Step 3: Double Click
Once the double-pointed arrow appears, as we showed you in the previous step, all you need to do is double-click on your mouse and watch the magic happen.
If you did everything right, you should see that the column is automatically fitted to display all the text in each cell.
The video below provides better insight into exactly what we mean.
Note: The autofit column width feature in Google Sheets adjusts the width based on the cell with the most text. So, if a cell has a lot of text, autofit might significantly widen the column.
To Autofit Column Width for Multiple Columns:
- Select the Columns: Choose the columns you wish to autofit.
- Position the Cursor: Move your cursor to the right edge of the title of any of these selected columns. You’ll notice the cursor changes to a double-pointed arrow.
- Double-Click: Simply double-click at this point. This action will autofit the width of all the selected columns simultaneously.
The video below explains the steps discussed above better:
To Autofit All Columns in a Sheet:
- Select All Cells: Click on the grey box at the top-left corner of the worksheet to select all cells.
- Autofit Columns: Then, double-click the right edge of any column title. This will autofit all the columns in your entire sheet in one go.
How to Autofit Column Width in Google Sheets Using the Fit tp Data Option
In the previous section, we showed you the steps to autofit column width in Google Sheets using the double-click method. But as we emphasized right from the get-go, that isn’t the only way to autofit column width in Google Sheets.
So, in this section, we will show you how to achieve the same result using the Fit to Data options.
To demonstrate how you can use the Fit to Data option to autofit column width in Google Sheets, we will use the same sample data we used for the previous method.
Now that we have our sample data nicely put together, let’s review the step-by-step process.
Step 1: Choose the Column to Autofit
Let’s begin by choosing the column we would like to autofit. Like we did in the previous example, we will choose column A.
Step 2: Righ Click > Resize Column
After choosing the column you’d like to autofit, go ahead and right-click on the selected column. This will reveal a list of options. From those options, you want to select the option that says Resize column.
Step 3: Select Fit to Data
After choosing the option for Resize column, Google Sheets will launch a dialog box featuring several settings. What we want to do here is choose the option for Fit to Data.
Once you select the option for Fit to data, go ahead and click the green OK button. Google Sheets should automatically update your spreadsheet to display an autofitted column.
Here, check out what ours looks like.
Now, that’s how to use the Fit to Data option to autofit column width in Google Sheets.
Like the double-click method we showed you earlier, the Fit to Data option equally does a brilliant job of autofitting column width in Google Sheets.
Note: If, for any reason, you update the data in your spreadsheet and need to autofit again, you’d have to repeat the steps we detailed above.
Autofit vs. Wrap Text: Breaking Down The Difference
Autofit in Google Sheets is designed to adjust column widths to fit the longest text in a cell. This feature is useful, but it can lead to excessively wide columns if some cells contain long text strings.
In situations where cells contain lengthy text, using the Wrap Text option is often more practical. Wrap Text transforms a long text string into multiple lines within the same cell, resembling a paragraph format. However, it’s important to note that when Wrap Text is applied, autofit may not function as you might expect.
Here’s what happens with Wrap Text:
- When Wrap Text is applied to a cell, any excess text wraps to a new line within the same cell, preventing text from spilling over into adjacent cells. As a result, the column width often appears adequate to Google Sheets.
- If any cell overflows into the next cell, Google Sheets will expand the column width to accommodate it. However, a cell with Wrap Text applied won’t overflow.
- In cells where Wrap Text is used and there’s white space, autofitting adjusts the column width to eliminate any unnecessary space.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Autofit a Single Column?
Select the entire column by clicking the column header letter. Double-click the right border of the header to autofit just that column.
Can I autofit multiple columns at once?
Yes, simply select all the columns you want to autofit by clicking and dragging across the headers. Then double-click any of the highlighted headers to autofit all selected columns together.
Does Autofitting a Column Adjust the Row Heights, Too?
No, autofitting only adjusts the width of the selected columns. To automatically adjust row heights, you need to double-click the bottom border of the row header instead.
What if I Have Wrapped Text in a Cell?
The autofit feature treats wrapped text differently and may not adjust the column wider. You may need to manually set the width for columns containing wrapped text.
Working with Google Sheets involves more than just data entry; it’s about presenting your data in the most readable and efficient way. Adjusting column widths plays a crucial role in this.
Whether you’re dealing with columns that are too narrow, causing text overlap, or too wide, resulting in unnecessary white space, mastering the art of autofitting column width is essential.
Today’s guide has walked you through various methods to autofit column width in Google Sheets, a skill that enhances the neatness and organization of your worksheets. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned spreadsheet user, these techniques are simple yet powerful tools in your spreadsheet arsenal.
Remember, autofitting is not just about fitting text; it’s about optimizing your spreadsheet for better data presentation. From fitting long text strings to eliminating blank spaces, creating uniform columns, resizing many columns quickly, or reformatting imported data, autofitting is your go-to solution.
We’ve explored different approaches, including the quick double-click method and the Fit to Data option, each serving the same purpose but with a slightly different process. Additionally, we’ve delved into the nuances of Autofit versus Wrap Text, helping you understand how to best use these features in tandem for the most efficient data presentation.
As you continue to work with Google Sheets, remember that these tools are designed to make your life easier. Embrace them, experiment with them, and watch as your spreadsheets transform into models of clarity and efficiency.