How To Change Column Width in Google Sheets

Fitting enough information into a single cell is incredibly important when it comes to understanding what the cell is trying to tell us. The data can get compressed or cut off within a column, so you may need to change the column width. Luckily, Google Sheets makes it easy.

How To Change Column Width in Google Sheets

Changing column width is just one of the ways to format data within Google Sheets. It is useful for making data fit into the cell and for making the dimensions of any given table fit into a design or page.

Change Column Width in Google Sheets

You have a couple options when changing column width in Google Sheets. You can widen the column or make it more narrow. There are different ways of doing each of those.

Manually Widen Column Width

The easiest way to get a table just so is to manually set your column width.

  1. Open your Google Sheet and select the column you want to edit.

  2. Click the line on the right side column header. The mouse cursor should change into a double arrow.

  3. Drag the line until the column is wide enough for your needs and let go of the mouse.

Manually Narrow Column Width

As you would expect, to make the column narrower, you just do the opposite of the above.

  1. Open your Google Sheet and select the column you want to edit.

  2. Click the line on the right of the column header. The mouse cursor will change into a double arrow.

  3. Drag the line until the column is narrow enough for the data to fit and let go of the mouse.

You can manipulate column width incrementally until it is exactly right for what you need.

Automatically widen column width

If you are just looking to fit the data within the cells to the correct width so they can be read clearly, you can do that much faster than dragging the column width.

  1. Open your Google Sheet and select the column you want to edit.

  2. Hover over the line on the right side column header. The mouse cursor will change into a double arrow.

  3. Double click the line and it will automatically scale to fit the widest cell content.

This method is a fast way to ensure cell content is displayed correctly and that the width fits the content. The downside is that if you have a single cell that contains a lot of data, Google Sheets will change all columns to fit that single cell. This works best of all data is of a similar size or length.

How to Edit the Width of Multiple Columns at One Time

Some situations may call for multiple columns of data to all be formatted in a similar way. In these cases, editing each column one at a time would be tedious. To edit the width of multiple columns at once, follow these steps:

  1. Select the columns you would like to edit

  2. Click the small drop down arrow at the header of the column.

  3. Select “resize columns.”

  4. Enter your desired pixel width or select “Fit to data.”

Your selected columns will all now be the same width.

Wrapping Up

Got any other Google Sheets tips you want to share? Know of any other ways to change column width? Tell us about it below!

2 thoughts on “How To Change Column Width in Google Sheets”

Lister Blister says:
As I need to printout the Googlr spreadsheet to fit a paper gradebook, is there a way to measure the widt of columns so that i can fine tune column width?
Alice Jensen says:
Thanks for the info. I am pretty savvy with Google Sheets but still have a problem that this does not address: Somehow, Column C of my sheet got so small, that all I see are two vertical lines side by side – I don’t see the Column header or any data from the cells, as the width is as small as it will go or smaller. It almost appears to be hidden, but it isn’t. I’ve tried the following:

Your instructions above – but cannot get the double arrow (or actually single arrow for my browser for Mac). It only goes into the next column and changes that column’s width instead of C. I’ve tried both manually and automatically, but without the arrow, it is impossible.

I’ve moved Column C around, and tried different merge styles. I’ve moved it to be Column A and also the last column in order to see if I can get the arrow to resize it, but to no avail.

I’ve made sure nothing was frozen, and no columns were hidden.

I’ve changed browsers and tried there.

I’ve zoomed way in, but that didn’t help at all. Also zoomed way out.

I went into my version history and restored back to the day when Column C was wide, only to discover that it also restored all of its other sheets back to that date, so I lost data there and put it back to the most current version.

I can select on the column and see the contents of the cell from the formula bar, so I know it exists. So if Google Sheets had a way of typing in the size that you want the column to be (as in Excel), that would be much more helpful, but I cannot find anything like that.

After typing the above line and realizing I can select the entire column and also individual cells, I figured I should be able to insert a new column and copy and paste the contents to the new one. I could not select the column and then insert a new one, otherwise, it simply inserted the new as the same size as C; I also could not copy the entire column into a new, right-sized column, as it then reverted to a narrow, almost invisible column, as well!! So I copied and pasted only one cell, and that did the trick! I could then start by selecting the next cell through the last cell in the column and was able to copy them over into the new column without that changing the width.


PhilipS says:
I had the same problem: a column was too small to resize.

I found another way to solve this:
1) Select a different column.
2) Tab over to the narrow-column.
3) Choose Edit > Paste Special > Paste Column Widths only.

I hope that helps someone else.

Alex Beamish says:
This is brilliant, and (may I say) completely counter-intuitive. Pasting column widths? Utterly bizarre — but it shows that exploring every possible menu entry is worthwhile.

Many thanks.

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