Using Fonts

You might be asking yourself what a font is. Simply put, a font is a style of type that is a particular typeface and size. Excel comes with many different fonts ready for you to use, and you can switch between them at any time. In the Normal template, which is the one applied when you create a new workbook, the default font is Arial and the font size is 10 points.

Font? graphics/newterm_icon.gif A typeface and size set for letters, numbers, and special characters.

Excel displays various fonts on the Formatting toolbar and provides a fast way to change the font. You can select a font from the Font box on the Formatting toolbar.

The Formatting toolbar contains tools for changing the appearance of your text. Figure 8.2 shows you the formatting tools you need for changing the font, font size, and font style.

Figure 8.2. The Formatting toolbar.



Use a contrast of font sizes on the same worksheet to enhance or emphasize the text and numbers. You can also use bold type, italic, outline borders, and shading so that your finished product is both pleasing to look at and emphasizes the correct information. To create outline borders and add shading to a range of cells, use the Border tab and Patterns tab in the Format Cells command, as described in Hour 10, "Adding Borders, Colors, and Fills."

Changing the Font Style

Sometimes you need to emphasize certain text to make sure it's read or to make sure the readers understand how important the text is. Bold works best for titles, subtitles, column headings, and row headings. Other times, italic type is necessary to make your text stand out. You can even combine bold and italic to draw attention to your text in the worksheet.

Because boldface and italic print are so common, Excel offers a quick and easy way to apply these styles to your worksheet data. Simply click the Bold (its tool is a boldface capital letter B) or Italic button (its tool is an italicized capital letter I) on the Formatting toolbar. The highlighted cells are immediately formatted with bold and/or italic.

Another font style you can apply to text is the underline. Just click the Underline button (its tool is an underlined capital letter U) on the Formatting toolbar to underline characters.


Boldface can increase the width of the characters and might change the length of the text entry in a cell. The text might spill over into the next cell. In this case, you should widen the column with the long entry to accommodate the boldface text. Adjusting column width is explained later in this hour.


You can use keyboard shortcuts for changing the font style: Ctrl+B for bold, Ctrl+I for italic, and Ctrl+U for underline.

Changing the Font Size

In the Normal template, which is the one applied when you create a new workbook, the default font size is 10 points. Font size is measured in points.

Point? graphics/newterm_icon.gif A standard measurement of type size; it equals 1/72 of an inch. For example, characters in a 10-point font size are 10/72 of an inch tall. Typically, worksheets use either a 10- or 12-point setting for text. The higher the point size, the bigger the text.

Excel lets you adjust font size in two ways:

  • The Font tab in the Format Cells dialog box

  • The Font Size box on the Formatting toolbar

No matter which method you choose to change font size, you can change the size of the font to whatever suits your needs.

In the next exercise, you change the font, font style, and font size for the title. You also change the font style for the column headings. You'll be working with the Sales 1st Qtr workbook once again. If the file isn't open right now, open it before you begin the exercise.

To Do: Change the Font, Font Style, and Font Size
  1. Select cell A1.

  2. Click the Font down arrow on the Formatting toolbar.

  3. Scroll down the list until you see Courier New and then click it.


    A rule of thumb for professional spreadsheet designers is to limit the number of fonts on a page to just a few. Otherwise, the page gets too busy.

  4. Click the Font Size down arrow on the Formatting toolbar.

  5. Scroll down the list until you see 16. Click it.

  6. Click the Bold button on the Formatting toolbar.


    You can activate the text attributes you want before you type text. For example, if you want a title in bold, 12-point Arial, select the cell that will contain the title. Before you start typing, choose Arial from the Font box, 12 from the Font Size box, and click the Bold button on the Formatting toolbar. When you type the text, Excel applies the bold, 12-point Arial text attributes.

  7. Select cells B3:D3.

  8. Click the Bold button on the Formatting toolbar.

  9. Click the Italic button on the Formatting toolbar.

  10. Click any cell to deselect the range. Figure 8.3 shows what your formatted text should look like.

    Figure 8.3. Font, font size, and font style changes.


    Part I: Excel Basics