How to “Enter” in Excel:
Start a New Line in a Cell (+Shortcut)

Written by co-founder Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist.

Have you tried pressing ‘Enter’ to start a new line and got disappointed?

Relax, your Excel isn’t broken. 😊

Unlike text editors, you can’t start a new line in Excel just by pressing ‘Enter’. In Excel, pressing ‘Enter’ moves the cursor to the next cell.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to enter in Excel for Mac and Windows easily using a shortcut. Also, we’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how to enter in an Excel cell when you’re using the ‘CONCATENATE’ function.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

*This tutorial is for Excel 2019/Microsoft 365 (for Windows). Got a different version? No problem, you can still follow the exact same steps.

Get your FREE exercise file

Before you start:

Throughout this guide, you need a data set to practice.

I’ve included one for you (for free).

Download it right below!

Download the FREE Exercise File

Download exercise file
Download free exercise file

How to get a line break in Excel

Starting a new line in a cell is easy.

Let’s say you have this sentence:

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

Now, you want to break the tongue twister above into two separate lines:

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

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

When in Excel, pressing ‘Enter’ (in the cell or in the formula bar) like how you would in Microsoft Word would only move the cursor to the next cell:

pressing enter in excel would just move the cursor below

To start a new line, double-click the cell which contains the text. Then, click the place where you want to insert a line break.

You can also do this in the formula bar.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

In our example, the location would be between the dot (.) of the first sentence and the first letter of the second sentence:

the location where a new line should be entered

Finally, enter a new line by pressing ‘Alt’ + ‘Enter’ on Windows or ‘Ctrl’ + ‘Option’ + ‘Return’ if you’re using Mac.

pressing alt and enter to enter a new line

Adding multiple line breaks

There’s no limit to how many line breaks you can add in a single cell.

Suppose 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?

Now, you’d like to break it into three lines:

(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?

Simple! Just do what you did earlier — press ‘Alt’ + ‘Enter’ — on the appropriate locations.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Here’s how to put multiple lines in an Excel cell:

adding multiple line breaks using alt and enter

Line breaks with CONCATENATE

The ‘CONCATENATE’ function is one of Excel’s text-combining functions.

This is usually done by using any of these two methods:

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

Let’s say you want to combine these phrases into one:

  • The first line and
  • The second line

This will give you: The first line and The second line

concatenating the first line and the second line

However, what you wanted is to combine both these phrases into a cell with a line break:

(1) The first line and 

(2) The second line

To add a line break, you have to enable ‘Wrap Text’ first for that cell.

the wrap text button

Then, add a ‘CHAR(10)’ in the formula if you’re on Windows or ‘CHAR(13)’ if you’re using Mac.

The formula will then look like this:

=A12 & CHAR(10) & A13

Press ‘Enter’ and you’ll see the added line break:

using char function to add a line break with concatenate

Wrapping things up…

Adding a new line in Excel is different than in text editors. But it doesn’t differ that much since you only needed to add an extra key.

This knowledge is handy especially when you want to add a long phrase in Excel without using a lot of cells. 😊

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

You might also like to learn how to wrap text in Excel (it’s super handy).