Indent in Excel (Shortcut)

By default, numbers are aligned to the right, and text values are aligned to the left in Excel.

In some cases, you may have a need to add a little bit of indent to the cell (so there is some space between the cell content and the cell border/grid.

There are multiple ways you can indent the content of the cell in Excel. you can use a simple keyboard shortcut or use the indentation option in the Ribbon (which allows you to indent with a single click).

In this tutorial, I will show you a couple of simple ways you can use to add indent in Excel.

Keyboard Shortcut to Indent Cells in Excel (Increase/Decrease Indent)

Let’s first have a look at the keyboard shortcut you can use to indent cell contents in Excel.

Keyboard shortcut to add indent to the left (increase indent):

ALT + H + 6

Keyboard shortcut to add indent to the right (decrease indent):

ALT + H + 5

You need to press these keys in succession, one after the other.

Important Things to Know about Indenting in Excel

  1. As you increase the indent of a number, it moves quickly to the left side of the cell. If you decrease the indent, it will move another step to the left side of the cell. As you increase the indent, the number will gradually move to the right side.
  2. If the cell’s number formatting is accounting, the currency sign will shift to the right (towards the number) when the indent is increased. When the currency sign and the number are sufficiently close to one another, increasing the indent will shift both the currency sign and the number to the right side.
  3. We cannot utilize the Excel indent shortcut to increase or reduce the indent of individual lines within the same cell.

Using the Indent Option in the Ribbon

You can also use the option in the Rxcel ribbon to quickly increase or decrease indent in Excel.

Below are the steps to do this:

  1. Select the cells for which you want to change the indent
  2. Click the Home tab
Click the Home tab
  1. In the Alignment group, click on the ‘Increase Indent’ or ‘Decrease Indent’ icon to apply the changes
Indent icons in the ribbon

When you click on the increase indent icon in the ribbon, it would add one indent unit to the cell content (which is approximately 3.5 millimeters of space on the left).

cell with and without indent

Similarly, if you click on the decrease indent icon, it will shift the cell content by approximately 3.5 millimeters to the right.

If you press any of these icons twice, it will add the indentation twice. You can continue to press these icons to add multiple units of indents to the same cell.

Using Format Cells Option to Apply Indent

Another way to indent cells in Excel is by using the Format Cells dialog box.

The benefit of using this method is that it allows you to specify the level of indent you want to add to the cell.

Below are the steps to add an indent in Excel using the ‘Format Cells’ dialog box:

  1. Select the cells in which you want to add the indent
  2. Click the Home tab
  3. In the Alignment group, click on the dialog box launcher (the small arrow icon at the bottom right part of the group)
Click on the alignment dialog box launcher
  1. In the Formats Cells dialog box, make sure the Alignment tab is selected
Select the alignment tab
  1. In the Horizontal drop-down, select Left (Indent)
Select left indent
  1. In the Indent field, enter the number of indents you want to apply (or use the spin button to increase or decrease the value)
Enter the indent value
  1. Click OK

The above steps would add the specified number of indents from the cells

Using Cell Styles to Apply Indent to Selected Cells

Another smart way to apply indent to cells in Excel is by creating a new cell style.

This method would be more suited if you have a few other formats that you also want to apply to these cells.

So instead of doing these manually one by one, you can create a cell style containing all the formats that need to be applied, and then apply all these formats with a single click.

Below are the steps to create a cell style that can indent the content of the cell as well:

  1. Click the Home tab
  2. In the Styles group, click on the Cell Styles icon
Click on Cell styles
  1. In the options that show up, click on ‘New Cell Style’
Select the new styles option
  1. In the Style dialog box, enter a name for this style. Although this is optional, it’s better to name it for ease of use
Specify the name for the style
  1. Click on the Format button
Click the format button
  1. In the Format Cells dialog box, click the Alignment tab (if it’s not activated already)
  2. Specify the Horizontal Indent alignment and value
Specify the indenting value
  1. Click OK
  2. Click OK

The above steps would create a new cell style, and it would be available when you click on the cell styles icon (under the custom options).

Style name shows up under custom style

As I mentioned, while this may not be the fastest way to indent cells in Excel, it is quite useful if you want to apply multiple formatting to the cells.

For example, if you want to change the number format to accounting or comma style, increase or decrease the decimal values, add a border and apply indent, then instead of doing this one by one, you can create a cell style and apply all these to the cell with a single click.

Note that the style that you create in one workbook, would only stay in that workbook. You won’t have access to it in any other workbook that you open on your system. However, you have an option to ‘Merge Styles’, where you can easily merge the styles of your current workbook with some other workbook on your system, and get the styles from that workbook.

Indent vs Adding Spaces

When you apply indent to a cell in Excel, it adds some space between the left border of the cell and the content of the cell.

Note that adding an indent to a cell is not equal to adding space characters on the left of the cell content.

When you add space characters before the cell content, you are changing the cell content by adding new characters to it.

Adding an indent to the cell is just like adding a little bit of padding so that the text shifts a little bit to the right. Doing this would not change the content of the cell.

In this tutorial, I showed you some easy ways to quickly add or remove indent from cells in Excel. The easiest way to do this would be by using a keyboard shortcut or using the icons in the ribbon.

And in case you need to apply multiple types of formatting to the cells, you can also try using the cell styles option, where you only need to specify the formatting once, and then it can be applied easily with a single click.

I hope you found this tutorial useful.

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I am a huge fan of Microsoft Excel and love sharing my knowledge through articles and tutorials. I work as a business analyst and use Microsoft Excel extensively in my daily tasks. My aim is to help you unleash the full potential of Excel and become a data-slaying wizard yourself.

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