In-cell carriage returns

Excel allows you to wrap text within a cell or within a merged set of cells. But it also allows you to force line-breaks within cells or merged cells.

If you want to create the equivalent of a carriage return within an Excel cell, hit ALT+Enter. The cursor will stay within the cell being edited, but will drop to the next line.

This can be useful when entering regular commentary in a single cell, such as weekly risk updates.

A word of caution though. Usually, these cells behave just fine. But occasionally, if you use the automatic cell height feature, it doesn’t respect these carriage returns and some of your cells’ contents may be hidden. There’s no solution to this beyond manually adjusting the row heights where you see this happening.

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15 Responses to In-cell carriage returns

  1. Brian Hall says:

    So is there any way to remove the in-line cell carriage returns? How would I specify them in a search and replace function? They are messing up my Text to Columns! Thanks.

  2. Scott says:

    Above is not complete correct. alt+enter will add a "line return". Line return and carriage return are different. In above example it does have the same result of new line.


    [Alt][Enter] no good on my version. There is no discernible response on my screen.

  4. Beth says:

    Neither Control + Option + Enter nor Command + Option + Enter work on my Mac.

    • Beth says:

      Thanks for your response. As it turns out, I only had the issue in a couple of cells…still don't know why it wasn't working, but I copied the same data from another cell where it was holding the returns and that worked just fine. I think it may have been a glitch with Excel Online vs. regular Excel. I had opened the file in regular Excel when I got it to work. I've noticed that the Online versions of programs behave differently than the regular versions...

  5. Andrew Wood says:

    What is the equivalent of Alt-Enter on a iPad to insert a CR in a cell?

  6. William H Caldwell says:

    I'm in Excel 13, I put the cursor between two words in the cell and hit enter while holding the ALT key - absolutely nothing happens; what am I missing??

  7. Ian Baker says:

    I am trying to create a script that includes a carriage return but am having problems

    I am using =a1 & "!"

    I need it to output a1 on the first line and ! on the second line. I am having problems becasue the second box is a formula.

  8. Garrison S. says:

    I had a column where each cell had 4 lines of text. I used Text to Columns and for the delimiter I used ALT+0010. It successfully separated my cells into 4 columns! Thanks for the tip.

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