Let’s take a look. Here we have the same table we looked at in an earlier lesson on aligning text across cells using Merge. Recall that Merge & Center physically merges cells and centers the remaining text. Only the value in the upper left cell is maintained. Other text, if it exists, is destroyed during the merge. In contrast, Center Across Selection only centers text; it does not combine cells. Like merging, the first step is to select the cells across which you’d like to center text. To access Center Across Selection, you need to go to the Alignment tab in the Format Cells dialog box. From the Horizontal menu, select Center Across Selection and click OK. If the original selection has text in cells to the right, you’ll need to manually remove that text before Center Across Selection takes effect. For the next two rows, let’s remove the text in columns N and O first, and then apply Center Across Selection. The result looks the same as a merge, but all the cells are still in place. If we check the Format Cells dialog box, we’ll see that Merge is left unchecked. Now let’s apply the Merge and Center approach to our main table. The results look the same as merging, but all cells are intact. In most cases Center Across Selection is a better approach than Merge because it leaves the primary structure of your worksheet intact and avoids certain problems that can occur when cells have been merged.

Dave Bruns

Hi - I’m Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.