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  • Microsoft Excel
    Microsoft Excel

Indent all but the first row of text in Excel

Note: I posted a question quite a while ago which was similar to the following.  However, that was before I had upgraded to Office 2010. I’m hopeful that now there is some way to accomplish what I’m after.

Hello,

I am currently working on an Excel project which contains a large number of cells with text entries (and Wrap Text on). For many of the text cells, I need to find a way to indent all but the first row of text.  Put another way, I essentially need a way to  create hanging indents (as they are called in Word) inside cells.  

For example, suppose you have pasted text into some number of cells (with Wrap Text on) as shown in Fig. 1.
Fig. 1 As expected, indenting changes the appearance to the following (Fig. 2).
Fig. 2 However, I am hoping there is a way to set indents to all rows except the first, as shown in Fig. 3.
Fig. 3 To create Fig. 3, I manually inserted the indents by using intracellular line feeds (Alt+Enter) and multiple spaces. However, the hanging indent formatting I’m after, would obviously need to automatically adjust lines as any Wrap Text cell does.

I have never seen this done but the fact that Excel does allow partial intracellular formatting of certain types (e.g. color, italics, etc., Fig. 4), makes me hopeful that it can be modified in some way to include indents.
Fig. 4
Thanks

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Steve_Brady Asked:

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LVL 50

Ingeborg Hawighorst (Microsoft MVP / EE MVE)Microsoft MVP ExcelCommented:
Hello Steve,

No go. Excel is not a word processor. Its text styling abilities are limited. After all, it is a spreadsheet, made for calculations, not for presenting text. The in-cell styling is limited to formatting font. There are no in-cell paragraph formatting options, no bullets, no numbered lists, no tabs, etc.

You could always use a Word table instead and have paragraphs with hanging indents.

cheers, teylyn

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LVL 10

mikeopoloCommented:
Embedded Word object will do it – example attached

Double-click to edit.
Word-object-with-hanging-indent.xlsx

LVL 37

Rob HensonFinance AnalystCommented:
Alternatively split into two columns, using the example above Frodo and Gandalf would be in column A and the text would be in column B. Right justify column A so that it appears to flow into the text in column B. Downside would be the gaps to the left of the names created by the right justify.

Thanks
Rob H

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Steve_BradyAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the responses. I appreciate your input.

>>teylyn:  You could always use a Word table

>>mikeopolo:  Embedded Word object will do it

>>robhenson:  …split into two columns

Those are helpful suggestions and I have used each of them in the past.
However, each has limitations of a sufficient degree to eliminate them as solutions for what I need.

>>teylyn:  Excel is not a word processor.

Yes teylyn, you are correct; and I am only too aware of that fact. Consequently, I would have been extremely surprised had someone pointed out a menu or QAT button called, "Turn on Hanging Indents."  Instead, my hope was (is) that there might be a tricky way to do it using VBA or that someone might know of an Add-In somewhere to accomplish it, etc.

Imo, it would be great to have intracellular word processing capabilities such as first-line indents, hanging indents, tabs, etc., but still retain all the great Excel functions such as filtering, sorting, cell-movements and many more.  

Maybe someone at MS will one day get a wild hair and create a hybrid application.  
It could be called:  MS Worxcel!

Thanks again  🙂

LVL 81

zorvek (Kevin Jones)ConsultantCommented:
Steve,

You can’t do what you want inside a cell without a lot of VBA code and Windows calls (to retrieve character widths given the current device characteristics). And even then the end result will be spaces inserted into the text to make it look like indenting.

There are two alternatives (without involving another application like Word,) each of which pretty much suck and I would not even try to implement them unless Excel was my only available tool and I had to provide such a solution and the person demanding it had a nasty ass gun pointed at my head.

One is to split the text into two parts with the second part in a second cell below the first. This still requires a lot of code but does eliminate the need to insert spaces in front of every line but the first.

Second is to use the text box object which does support indenting of lines but you still have to insert a carriage return at the appropriate place which means a lot of code to do that and put a bunch of text boxes on your sheet.

Seriously, why are you using Excel to format text? Excel is a number crunching application, not a text formatting application. What are you doing and why? And you can forget waiting until the Excel project team provides such functionality – it will never happen.

If the data is already in Excel then write some VBA to push the data into a Word document. This I’ve done many times.

Kevin

Steve_BradyAuthor Commented:
uh…..ok, I’ll take that as a no.  

Or better yet, can we all just sorta pretend I never asked this question?

LVL 81

zorvek (Kevin Jones)ConsultantCommented:
Ha! OK.

Steve_BradyAuthor Commented:
Thanks

mikkie98Commented:
I have need of the exact same thing in my Workbook…

Yet, none of the answers here are helpful – being told Excel is not word = not helpful in my book. Anyone working with Excel already knows this.

Oh well 🙁

LVL 50

Ingeborg Hawighorst (Microsoft MVP / EE MVE)Microsoft MVP ExcelCommented:
mikkie98,

please read zorvek’s comment above:

Seriously, why are you using Excel to format text? Excel is a number crunching application, not a text formatting application. What are you doing and why? And you can forget waiting until the Excel project team provides such functionality – it will never happen.

That about says it all.

If you are determined to use Excel for things it was not designed for, then you will need to make allowances or be willing to put in a lot of work.

The tool should be the last thing to be determined, after you have defined what you want to achieve. You should not start with "THE TOOL" and then try to bend it into shape to do what you need done.

cheers, teylyn

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