To merge or not to merge? That is the question. And it’s a questions which divides the Excel community. We find the Merge & Center button is on the Ribbon, so it appears to be the only option. But soon we are greeted by these types of annoying error messages:
Excel has a secret alternative option called Center Across Selection, which once you’ve found it, you’ll never return to merging cells again.
Visually the two options look very similar
Functionally they are very different, the lack of annoying error messages for starters.
Applying center across selection manually
Center Across Selection is available form the Format Cells window.
Select the cells you wish to center across, click Home -> Alignment Settings.
The Format Cells window will open. On the Alignment tab. From the Horizontal drop-down select Center Across Selection.
Finally, click OK to close the window.
What happens if you already have a workbook with lots of merged cells? Are you really going to go through cell by cell to change them all? Thankfully, you don’t have to, I have written a macro which will do the conversion for you 🙂
Convert all Merged cells to Center Across Selection
As you might be using this macro a lot, I suggest you add it to your Personal Macrobook for fast access.
Sub ConvertMergedCellsToCenterAcross() Dim c As Range Dim mergedRange As Range 'Check active sheet is a worksheet If TypeName(ActiveSheet) <> "Worksheet" Then Exit Sub 'Loop through all cells in Used range For Each c In ActiveSheet.UsedRange 'If merged and single row If c.MergeCells = True And c.MergeArea.Rows.Count = 1 Then 'Set variable for the merged range Set mergedRange = c.MergeArea 'Unmerge the cell and apply Centre Across Selection mergedRange.UnMerge mergedRange.HorizontalAlignment = xlCenterAcrossSelection End If Next End Sub
Center Across Selection does not work across rows, it only centers across columns. We want to maintain the integrity of the spreadsheet, therefore, this macro has been specifically designed to not remove any merged cells which cover more than one row. To select all the remaning merged cell you can follow the code in my VBA to select merged cells post.
About the author
Hey, I’m Mark, and I run Excel Off The Grid.
My parents tell me that at the age of 7 I declared I was going to become a qualified accountant. I was either psychic or had no imagination, as that is exactly what happened. However, it wasn't until I was 35 that my journey really began.
In 2015, I started a new job, for which I was regularly working after 10pm. As a result, I rarely saw my children during the week. So, I started searching for the secrets to automating Excel. I discovered that by building a small number of simple tools, I could combine them together in different ways to automate nearly all my regular tasks. This meant I could work less hours (and I got pay raises!). Today, I teach these techniques to other professionals in our training program so they too can spend less time at work (and more time with their children and doing the things they love).
Do you need help adapting this post to your needs?
I'm guessing the examples in this post don't exactly match your situation. We all use Excel differently, so it's impossible to write a post that will meet everybody's needs. By taking the time to understand the techniques and principles in this post (and elsewhere on this site), you should be able to adapt it to your needs.
But, if you're still struggling you should:
- Read other blogs, or watch YouTube videos on the same topic. You will benefit much more by discovering your own solutions.
- Ask the 'Excel Ninja' in your office. It's amazing what things other people know.
- Ask a question in a forum like Mr Excel, or the Microsoft Answers Community. Remember, the people on these forums are generally giving their time for free. So take care to craft your question, make sure it's clear and concise. List all the things you've tried, and provide screenshots, code segments and example workbooks.
- Use Excel Rescue, who are my consultancy partner. They help by providing solutions to smaller Excel problems.
Don't go yet, there is plenty more to learn on Excel Off The Grid. Check out the latest posts: