Is there a way to add padding to cells in Excel 2010?

The spreadsheet I'm using has cells in one column with varying row heights. I don't want to center the text, I just want it padded slightly from the left side.

7 Answers 7


Note: I'm on Excel 2007, but I would be surprised if this doesn't work.

Select the cells, right click, select Format Cells.

Move to the Alignment tab, set the Horizontal value to Left (Indent) and adjust the Indent value as desired.

There should be two alignment buttons on the ribbon as well (that increase or decrease the indent), they look like this:

Excel 2007 ribbon; highlighted decrease/increase indent buttons

  • 1
    @SethP. - See ingenious solution (hide dummy column with fat borders): superuser.com/questions/317672/… Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 22:40
  • 8
    This is not a solution. There is no way to add padding to a cell in Excel 2010. You can only simulate it, and only in the horizontal plane, and only on the left hand side.
    – Tim Ogilvy
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 23:58
  • 1
    Interestingly, the indent buttons also works for right aligned cells. The adjust the indent from the right.
    – Rudiger W.
    Commented Nov 16, 2019 at 17:43
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    This is not cell padding nor has it even to do with what "padding" usually means. Its a wrong answer
    – ohcibi
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 18:11
  • As other have pointed out. This isn't padding at all. It is indent. This doesn't add spacing around the sides of the cell. This answer is incorrect and there is no way to set an actual padding. Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 14:31

That's an 'indent'. Cell padding is exactly the same thing as page margins, but at the cell level. Excel does not currently support this feature although it is supported in Word tables. Go figure.

  • 7
    Years later, 2013 is out and still no cell margin to be found. Les' answer is indeed the correct one.
    – BlueCacti
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 20:26
  • 1
    A decade later, this answer is still true. Excel still does not support this feature although it is supported in Word and Powerpoint tables.
    – ercan
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 8:03
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    I assume this feature is still lacking in 2020?
    – Merchako
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 17:52
  • 2
    Still missing in 2022. Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 14:34
  • Still missing in 2024
    – goodeye
    Commented Jul 2 at 19:53

You can cheat and apply a border to all 4 sides of the cell that is the same color as the cell background. Do this in the Home tab - Format (in the cells group) - Borders, or select the cells and right click, then choose "format cells" at the bottom of the dropdown.

Make sure you click the border icons on the right AFTER you set the border color and width. Even if they are already highlighted, they do not apply the color unless they are clicked again after you select them and set the border color.

  • 2
    Options for border width seem to be limited. The thick option in Excel 2010 fails to satisfy.
    – Smandoli
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 16:42
  • 3
    Also if you already have borders you need/like, this is destructive.
    – BaseZen
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 20:23
  1. Select the cell range and increase the fonts size several points.
  2. Auto fit the column width and row height.
  3. Set the font size back to the original size.

This takes a few steps, but it gets the look I want without the padding feature. I also like to center the type vertically once this is done.

  • Nice solution! I tried this approach in Excel 2016, however step 3 reset the row heights back to the original, smaller height. The workaround I used instead was to set an empty adjacent column to a larger font size, resulting in a padding-like effect in the column that contains text in a smaller font.
    – Robbie
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 4:25

This combines a couple ways of using formatting to simulate padding.

The Accounting comma-button , format applies a space to the beginning and end of the cell value. This is actually putting a space for positive numbers and parentheses for negative numbers, but it adds spaces for text. Typically I first set the entire sheet to this format, then change individual columns or cells as needed, to "undo" the accounting formatting.

If you only need space to the right, create a custom format based on an existing format, by adding a space to the end of the format string.

e.g., a Date column tends to put the date right up against the cell edge to the right. I changed the format from "yyyy-mm-dd" to "yyyy-mm-dd " (there's a space on the end, and no quotes - that's just to see the space in this post).

I also put a leading space on the date format " yyyy-mm-dd ", and it worked for dates. But it didn't work for text, such as the column heading. I could only get text to pad by using the built-in Accounting comma , button. I'm not sure what's going on. I tried various combinations of the accounting-style _(, but had no success other than using the comma button


I just press Alt+Enter before the first row and after last one (you must be in the cell by double clicking it).

Of course it is pain if you work dozens of data, but if you fill the rows from zero it does the trick.


While I did not find the current answers to this question (or answers anywhere else) satisfactory, they did inspire this answer, tested with Excel Version 2008. I rely on the following:

  • Even though technically only the left side of a cell is padded, Excel's Horizontal indent can act as "poor man's (horizontal) padding" to evenly space adjacent cells;
  • By default, Excel expands all cells in a row to match the row's tallest cell

Putting these two together I find I can effectively "pad" a range of cells as follows:

  1. Manually adjust the widths of all columns you wish to pad

  2. Select all cells to be padded, go to Home, then select Format->AutoFit Row Height. This adjusts row heights to the minimum needed for their tallest cells.

  3. Select all cells you wish to pad and use the Alignment tab of the Format cells menu (accessible by right-clicking the cells and striking your 'f' key) to format them as Text alignment->Vertical->Center. This ensures our vertical "padding" is evenly distributed on either side of each cell's content.

  4. To pad horizontally, at this time you may use the same menu to also format your cells as Text alignment->Horizontal->Left (indent) and set an Indent value as desired (some of the other Horizontal settings will also work). If you do this be sure to deselect the Wrap text checkbox.

  5. Insert a new column, probably column A:

    • Right-click on any cell
    • Strike 'i' key, strike Enter key
    • Strike 'c' key, strike Enter key
  6. In the newly-created column, in any cells you wish to vertically pad, enter a vertical column of any character, for example 'a':

    • Strike 'a' key, release, then hold Alt and strike Enter key;
      • Repeat until you have entered a tall enough column of characters to fill the cell's vertical space;
      • Repeat one or more times to add vertical padding;
    • Strike your Tab key to move your cursor outside this cell.
  7. Because Excel by default synchronizes the vertical height of all cells in a row, at this point you should notice a change in the vertical padding of other cells in the row of the cell you just tabbed out of. By entering more or fewer vertical characters you can control how much padding is added.

  8. Once you are satisfied with the vertical padding of all rows, hide the column you created above. Vertical padding will remain in place as long as the column is not deleted.


As stated elsewhere, Excel does not support real padding as does Word. As such,

  • Vertical padding does not automatically adjust when text is added or removed, or when you change column widths. Therefore, make this adjustment when your other editing is completed;
  • You may need to iterate through these steps a few times until your padding is as desired.

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