Excel Tips: Why You Should Avoid Merging Cells

Lesson 10: Why You Should Avoid Merging Cells


Why you should avoid merging cells

Excel allows you to merge several cells into a single large one, a function which can be used to center text across several rows or columns. However, merged cells are notorious for creating problems in spreadsheetsespecially if you're trying to sort, copy, paste, or move data. 

Because of this, it's generally best to avoid merging cells unless you absolutely have to.  Luckily, the Center Across Selection feature can give the same basic look as merged cells without creating problems in your spreadsheet. 

Watch the video to see why merging cells can cause problems, and how this other feature might help you accomplish your goal.


Here are the steps to unmerge a cell and simply center the text instead…

  1. Click on the merged cell that you want to unmerge.
  2. Click on the Merge & Center button in the Alignment group on the Home tab. This will lead to separate cells. 
  3. Re-select this group of cells, and click the small arrow on the bottom right corner of the Alignment group. 
  4. In the Text alignment menu under “Horizontal,” choose Center Across Selection before clicking “OK.” 
  5. This has centered the text, making it look like a merged cell–but it’s actually separate cells. 

Center Across Selection only works horizontally. For vertical groups of cells, you may still need to merge them.

You will notice that when you try to do things like sort the data, the previously merged cell won’t cause problems like it did before. In the next lesson, we’ll show you another Excel feature: the Quick Analysis tool.