Excel Font Formatting

Change Font for a cell in Excel

Font formatting makes your Excel Spreadsheet stand out.

This is often an underappreciated part of making spreadsheets.

But visual design is key to engaging people!

This skill is extremely important for hooking people in to your work.

We also cover font formatting in our excel courses – check them out!

Excel Font Formatting

Changing The Excel Font

When you want to format text in Excel, you can see a live preview of what they will look like before changing the font. First things first, make sure you are in the home tab.

Select the cell with the text you want to format, click on the font button within the font group, and the pick list will appear.

You can also see the different font style selection in this menu.

Just scroll over them, and your selection will change to that font style without doing anything else. When you select a font you want, click on the font name, and your choice will be applied. This will also work for changing the font colour and cell fill colour.

Shows the font menu and the live preview

If you want to see more details and extensive options for font changing, you can click the dialog box launcher highlighted here.

Shows where the dialog box launcher is and shows the pop up

This dialog box is full of different types of font style formatting options to use. If the options in the font group are not enough, then all Excel has to offer can be found here.

Font formatting is particularly useful for Charts, view our introduction to charts here.

Increase and Decrease Font Size In Excel

If you know the size of the font you want, you can select it from the font size box in the home tab. See picture below to see where.

Shows how to change the font size

Next to the drop-down font size box, there are two letter A’s. One is larger with an up arrow next to it and one slightly smaller with a down arrow next to it.  These buttons will decrease and increase font size with one click. This is a quick way to change the font size. Just select the cell and then either choose the font size from the drop-down list in the home tab, or click on the relevant ‘A’ button until you reach the desired size.

For information on how to create a drop down menu, view our full guide on drop down menus here.

Bold, Italics, Underlining and Colour In Excel

Highlights with numbers the key parts of the font menu

The picture above shows the font group within the Home tab and highlights where you can do certain things:

  1. Make text bold
  2. Italicise text
  3. Underline
  4. Fill cell colour / change background colour
  5. Change the font colour

When you want to format text in a way other than font – this section will prove invaluable.

For more on visual design and how it can help your spreadsheets, check out our guide to creating a drop down list in excel here!

Bold makes your text stand out  – you may want to attract the eye to a particular piece of information or data. Be careful not to overuse bold text, as if everything is emphasized, then nothing will stand out! You can also use the shortcut ctrl b.

Italics slant your text – this is often used to show things like official names. If you refer to a book or study, italics are a great way to show a reader that fact. You can also use the shortcut ctrl i.

Underlining makes you take notice – the best use for underlining is when creating titles for your data or charts. This is up to your discretion ultimately but is another tool for you to emphasize your information. You can also use the shortcut ctrl u.

As for Cell and Font Colour, these are further tools to change the format of your text. Ideas for Colour changes are to put losses in revenue in red, and gains in green. Small edits like this, combined with font size can make a huge difference into the readability of your sheet!

You can also use this alignment group (found next to the font group in the home tab) to change the text alignment.

Shows the alignment menu and where to click to switch between alignments

Text alignment is just another way you can organise your data, if you are looking for ways to visualise more information, read our guide on creating a flowchart in Excel here.

Format Painter In Excel

This is the tool I probably use most out of the Office suite as it’s the same in all the programs.

Once you have formatted a cell exactly how you want it, you can copy all of the formatting and add it to a different cell.

Click on the cell and then right-click, look for the box with the little paintbrush symbol and click on it.

Shows the font formatter option on text

Your cursor will turn into a little cross with a paintbrush next to it. When you click onto a cell, the formats will be added to that cell.

Looking for more excel tips? Check this guide to named ranges out here.





About Ben Richardson

Ben is a director of Acuity Training which he has been running for over 10 years.

He is a Natural Sciences graduate from the University of Cambridge and a qualified accountant with the ICAEW.

He previously worked as a venture capitalist and banker and so had extensive experience with Excel from building financial models before moving to learn SQL, Microsoft Power BI and other technologies more recently.