How To Add And Change Cell Borders In Excel

Learning to present the data in your spreadsheets clearly is extremely important. Unclear and poorly laid out spreadsheets are much more likely to contain errors.

Excel contains lots of data validation tools but it is better to get your calculations right first time than it is to rely on Excel catching an error. Obviously the larger your spreadsheet is the more important it is to format the spreadsheet clearly. We cover managing larger spreadsheets in our more advanced Excel courses.


Adding Your First Border

To make data easier to view or to define it you may decide to add borders to your Excel spreadsheet. Here is an example of some of our data without any borders:

Example Data with no borders


Firstly we want to add lines around every single cell so:

Make sure that you are on the ‘Home’ tab

Highlight the area you want to apply the borders

    1. Click the arrow on the button that looks like a little window, this is call the ‘Borders’ button, this will open up a drop down list.
    2. Click on the ‘All Borders’ choice

Shows where to find the borders options


This will then look like this:


Data now with All Borders


You can also get these Outlines options by right clicking the data and opening the Dialog Box for Formatting Cells.


How to find the Format Cells Dialog Box

Format Cells Dialog Box


Thick Outside Borders – How And When

If you want to show up that the first row is headings, you should put a thicker line around them. To do this you want to use Thick Outside Borders.

  1. Again highlight the cells you want the border around and click on the arrow on the ‘Borders’
  2. Click on the Thick Outside Border. This is purely an outer border and will not make of the internal line thick.


Where to find Thick Outside Borders option


Your spreadsheet will then look like this:


Shows the top row with its thick borders


This looks better but still not quite right! To finish it off it needs a thick border around the complete table.

  • Highlight the whole table and click on the arrow on the ‘Borders’
  • Click Thick Box Border

This has now put a thicker border around the whole thing and just to finish it off I’ve made the heading text bold. This is how it will look when printed as well.

Shows the table all with thicck outside borders


If you now want to change the way the interior data looks, you can view our guide on Excel font formatting here.


Final Thoughts

Cell Borders are a great way to distinguish your data. Good judgement on when to use specific borders will

For more on how you can make your Excel work easier to read, view our comprehensive guide on every way to rename an Excel worksheet here.