How to Rotate Text in Excel

The Orientation option in Excel is useful when you want to rotate text in Excel.

When dealing with large tables, users might want to rotate text for visibility. Excel offers an Orientation feature that allows you to change the angle a cell will use to display text values.

Let’s look at a scenario where we might want to rotate text in your spreadsheet.

Suppose we have a spreadsheet with multiple columns. For easy navigation, you would like to compress the column size so that the entire table fits within the screen. If you have a column heading that is longer than the current cell size, users cannot read the entire text, which might make it difficult to read.

There are a few options available to improve this setup. You can either shrink the text or deactivate text wrapping. However, neither of these options allows you to read the text easily. 

With the orientation function, it becomes pretty easy to rotate text in a cell so that you can easily present text in a smaller width column. Tables with numerical data can significantly benefit from rotating the header text since it will allow you to use up less of the screen for your table.

Rotating text either diagonally or vertically can help make your spreadsheets more compact and easier to read. Let’s learn how to use the orientation option ourselves in Excel and later test out the function in an actual sample sheet.



A Real Example of Rotating Text in Excel

Let’s take a look at a real example of a spreadsheet that has rotated text. Excel supports various angles of rotation and includes some pre-defined orientation options as well.

The table shown below contains the monthly sales of several items in our inventory. We have rotated the headers for each month to decrease the amount of horizontal space used. 

example of rotate text in Excel


We can rotate the text further to have text written upwards or downwards. As seen in the example below, you can easily compress more data without compromising the header visibility. In the same amount of space, we placed twice the amount of information after rotating our headers.

change orientation of text for compact tables


You can make your own copy of the spreadsheet above using the link attached below. 

If you’re ready to try rotating text yourself in Excel, head over to the next section to learn more.



How to Rotate Text in Excel

This section will guide you through each step needed to start rotating text in Excel. You’ll learn how we can use Orientation options to determine at what angle text values are displayed.

Follow these steps to start rotating text:

  1. First, select the cell range you want to rotate the text on. In this example, we’ve selected the range B1:G1, which contains our headers for months.
    select range to rotate text in Excel

  2. Next, find the Orientation button. You can find this in the Alignment section under the Home tab.
    Orientation tool

  3. Click on the Orientation button to view some options you can choose to orient your text on. Excel offers 5 different alignment options to change your cell’s text direction quickly.
    In this example, we’ll first angle our text in a counterclockwise direction.
    various preset orientations to rotate text in Excel

  4. Your range should now have rotated text, as seen below.
    different orientation with text

  5. Selecting the clockwise option should return something similar to the table below.
    clockwise orientation
  6. To undo the text rotation, there are a few options you can use. First, you can disable orientation options if you use one of the pre-defined orientations. Select the range with rotated text and click the predefined option you have clicked on earlier. Your cell range should now have their text back to normal.
    Sample of text rotated up
    Alternatively, you may also set the orientation Angle to 0 degrees in the Format Cells dialog box. You can quickly pull up this dialog box using the shortcut Ctrl + 1.
    Change orientation through the Format Cells dialog



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. Is there a way to set arbitrary angles for text orientation?
    Users can select the Format Cells option to get an advanced menu for formatting text. There is an input field where you can indicate the exact angle you want the text to be presented. You may also use your mouse to drag the interactive compass to your preferred angle.
    format cells dialog box

  2. Is there a way to vertically align text?
    If you want to align a cell’s text vertically, you can click the “Vertical Text” option under the Orientation drop-down list. This will show the text so that each character takes up one line.
    rotate text in Excel to get vertical text

That’s all you need to remember to start rotating text in Microsoft Excel. This step-by-step guide should be all you need to begin formatting text values yourself in Excel. This tip is best used when creating reports that require less screen space. 

Rotating text is just one example of a formatting option in Excel. Other features you can explore include setting text alignment and wrapping text within a cell. With so many other Excel functions out there, you can indeed find one that suits your use case. 

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