How to Enter in Excel: Start a New Line in a Cell (2022)

Did you try pressing enter in excel expecting the cursor to move to the next line but met disappointment?

Yup, we have done the same. 😁

It simply happens because, unlike text editors, Excel does not let you move to the next line by pressing enter. Instead, it moves you to the next cell.

To help you with that, we are here to teach you a quick shortcut. You can insert a line break in excel on both Windows and Mac. You will also learn how to add a line break using the CONCATENATE function.

We have created a data set for you to practice. Download it here.

How to Start a New Line in a Cell

You can start a new line in Excel in less than 3 seconds – it’s so easy! Let’s consider an example.

Say you have a sentence.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.

Using the example sentence.

You want to divide the line into two separate parts:

(1) Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

(2) A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.

In Excel, pressing the enter button will only move your cursor to the next cell. So to insert a line break in Excel:

  1. Double-click the selected cell.
  2. Place your cursor where you want to add a new line.
  3. Press enter.

You can also use the formula bar to start a new line in an Excel cell.

In our case, we want to insert the line break after the dot before the start of the second line.

Selecting an appropriate position for inserting the line break.
  1. If you’re on Windows – press Alt + Enter to insert a line break.
  2. Otherwise, press CTRL + Option key + Return key to add a carriage return if you are on Mac.
The link break is inserted in the Excel cell

The line break appears in the Excel cell. 😀

Pro Tip!

You can also add a line break after specific characters by using the Find and Replace feature. Select the cell and open the Find and Replace dialog box.

Enter the specific character in the find tab. Now, move to the replace tab and press CTRL + J. Click to replace all, and carriage returns appear at the specified positions.

How to Add Multiple Lines in a Cell

Adding multiple lines in Excel is no big deal. You can add more than one line in a single cell.

Say you have this sentence.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers?

Long sentence in Excel

And you want to break it into three parts like

(1) Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

(2) A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.

(3) If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers?

It’s easy.

  1. Select the positions where you want to insert multiple lines.
Select position
  1. Press the Alt key + Enter to start a new line. You can also add spacing in selected cells – simply press the key combination twice.
Multiple line breaks appear

Multiple line breaks appear in the selected cell.

Insert Line Breaks with CONCATENATE

Among Excel’s wide range of functions is the CONCATENATE function. It is a text-combining function and is represented by &.

Usually, it is written in one of these two ways:

  • =CONCAT(text1, text2, [text3],..)
  • =text1 & text2 & text3 &… textN

Let’s use the previous sentence as an example here. Say you want the following two phrases to be combined into one cell.

(1) Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

(2) A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.

Using example sentences for adding line breaks

Enter appropriate arguments in the formula. Since our text is in cells A2 and A3, we will use the following formula:

=A2 & ” ” & A3 

Upon exiting the edit mode, Microsoft Excel will show the sentence in a single line.

Applying the formula on the example sentence

But that’s not what we wanted. Why didn’t the line break appear? 🤔

That’s because the Enter keyboard shortcut does not work with formulas. Excel needs the CHAR function for inserting line breaks with functions.

So, to insert a line break:

  1. We will enable wrap text feature from the Home Tab for the selected cell. It is under the alignment group.
Selecting the wrap text button

Once the toggle button is switched on for the selected cell, we will add the CHAR function. Each OS has a special character code, and the code for a line break in Windows is 10 and 13 for Mac.

  1. Add CHAR(10) in the formula in place of ” ” to add a line break

=A2 & CHAR(10) & A3.

Entering the character code

The line feed appears in the Excel cell.

You can also use the TEXTJOIN function in place of CONCATENATE – they both serve the same purpose.

Show New Lines with Wrap Text

Wrap text lets you easily insert line breaks between text strings in the same cell. Simply select the cell with text inside and click the wrap text button from the Home Tab.

As evident from the name, the wrap text feature ‘wraps’ the text around a worksheet cell. It adjusts the text and adds line breaks automatically to autofit the column width.

For instance, the first line in this worksheet exceeds the location inside the column. As it occupies the next several cells.

Applying the wrap text to adjust the text

To adjust it, we will use wrap text to limit the line in an Excel cell.

  1. Select the cell.
  2. Adjust the row height.
  3. Enable the wrap text feature.

The text will now look something like this:

Applying the wrap text to adjust text

You can do the same for the next row and other multiple cells.

That’s it – Now what?

This article taught us how to enter single and multiple line breaks in a cell. We also saw how to use the wrap text feature in Excel and a quick trick to add a new line with formulas.

Although these shortcuts come in handy while working in Excel, they constitute only a small part of this gigantic spreadsheet software.

Excel has so much more to offer, like the basic VLOOKUP, IF, and SUMIF functions that you must learn.

Enroll in my 30-minute free email course that can help you master these functions (and more!). 😀

Other Resources

Inserting line breaks using wrap text in Excel is much more than what has been explained here. Learn more about line feed and wrap text here.

Also, if this article interests you might also like our guides on Autofitting in ExcelInserting Multiple Rows, and Adding Columns in Excel.