Knowing the ins and outs of Excel is essential to organizing data, understanding analytics, and getting the most out of your marketing efforts. The tool is great for processing large amounts of data quickly, but it can be overwhelming if you don’t spend the majority of your workday preparing spreadsheets.
Fortunately, all it takes is a few basic skills to create an easy-to-read spreadsheet. The first is how to merge cells in Excel. Whether you’re planning blog posts for the upcoming quarter, creating an email list for a targeted campaign, or designing SEO-optimized Google ads, cell merging is a convenient way to organize your information.
To sharpen your skills, we’ll cover several ways to combine cells.
Don’t want to start from scratch? Use these free Excel templates as the basis for your own marketing spreadsheets.
How to merge two cells in Excel
Fusion is a way of transforming two small cells into a new, large cell. This is useful for organizing information and creating headers, without needing to resize individual cells. Here’s how.
Step 1: Highlight the two adjacent cells you want to merge (I’m merging A1 and B1 in the example).
Step 2: Under the Home tab, click the “Merge” icon and choose “Merge Cells”.
Step 3: That’s it! You have merged the cells.
Note: When combining cells, only the data from the top left cell is saved. Make sure to save the other cell’s information so that it is not lost. If you have data in both A1 and B1, Excel will not simply clear them. This alert will appear:
You don’t want to delete the data? Click “Cancel” and copy/paste the information into a separate document or cell before merging. If you only need the information in the top left cell, click “OK” to merge the cells.
How to Merge and Center Cells in Excel
Let’s say you’re building a marketing report and you want your headlines to be centered above your data. Merge and center the cells using these steps.
Step 1: Highlight the cells you want to merge.
Step 2: Under the Home click the “Merge” icon and choose “Merge and Center”.
Step 3: Your cells will merge and the data will be centered in the cell.
How to Merge Cells in Excel Shortcut
Clicking the right “Merge” function over and over can be a hassle if you need to combine a large number of cells. For a quick merge, start by highlighting the cells you want to merge. Then type the following key combinations.
Excel Shortcuts for Windows
- Merge cells: ALT H+M+M
- Merge and Center: ALT H+M+C
- Merge: ALT H+M+A
- Undo cell merge: ALT H+M+U
Excel shortcuts for the operating system
Apple operating system does not have an ALT key, so you need to set up your own shortcut to merge cells.
- In Excel, click “Tools” below the navigation bar.
- Select “Customize Keyboard”.
- A pop-up window will appear. Under the “Specify an Order” heading, there are two columns: Categories and Orders. For Categories, select “Home Tab”. For commands, select “Merge Cells”.
- Select the text box under “Press a new keyboard shortcut.” Type the key combination for your shortcut. For example: CONTROL+M.
- Click “OK” to set your shortcut.
- You can now use CONTROL+M to merge cells in Excel.
- Configure additional shortcuts for Merge, Merge and Center or Unmerge.
How to merge multiple cells in Excel
You know the basics, but now you want to get creative and merge more than two cells. Depending on your desired spreadsheet layout, you can use the Merge, Merge Cells, or Merge and Center function.
This option is used to merge cells within a single row. You cannot use “Merge Between” to combine cells in a column or across multiple rows.
In this example, I’m setting up PPC ads and I want to see my description copy in row 17. If I simply resize column F, my table will have too much space between columns F and G. Merging multiple cells on line 17 allows me to see the copy and keep the table neat.
Step 1: Highlight all the cells you want to merge in the row.
Step 2: Under the Home tab, click the “Merge” icon and choose “Merge Between”.
Step 3: The cells merge over the entire highlighted area.
2. Merge and Center
You can merge and center multiple cells across rows and columns. Remember that the data in the top left cell is the only information that will remain when merged. In the example below, I use “Merge and Center” to combine rows 15, 16 and 17 with columns F, G and H.
3. Merge Cells
The “Merge Cells” function is ideal for combining multiple adjacent cells across rows and columns. This works just like the “Merge and Center” function, except that the data will be left-aligned instead of centered after merging.
How to Merge Cells in Excel Without Losing Data
Want to merge cells without losing information from all cells except the top left one? Easy. You can use the ampersand (&) or the CONCATENATE function to combine data from two or more cells.
In the example below, I’m creating copy for Instagram and want to combine the caption with its corresponding link.
Step 1: Choose the cell where you want to place the merged data. Make sure this is separate from the cells you are merging.
Step 2: Type = in the empty cell and select the first cell to combine.
Step 3: Type & and use ” ” to leave a space between cell data.
Step 4: Type & again before choosing the next cell. Repeat for all cells you want to combine. An example formula is =D5&” “&E5.
Step 5: Press Enter. In the example, you can see how the text from cells D5 and E5 have merged into F5.
CONCATENATE or CONCAT
The CONCATENATE (or CONCAT) function is another way to combine two or more text strings together.
The formula in Excel is =CONCATENATE (text1,text2,…). Text1 is the first cell to merge and can be a text value, number, or cell reference. Text2 is the next element to join. For this function, you can merge up to 255 elements or 8,192 characters.
Step 1: Highlight a new blank cell where you want to merge data.
Step 2: In the formula bar, type =CONCATENATE(
Step 3: A formula builder will appear, allowing you to choose Text1, Text2, etc. Select the cells you want to merge, from the first to the last. To include spaces between cell data, you must include ,” “, in the formula. (i.e. =CONCATENATE(D5,” “,E5))
Step 4: Press Enter. The data from your selected cells will be combined into the CONCATENATE cell.
Why can’t I merge cells in Excel?
A lot can go wrong if your formula or formatting isn’t set up correctly. If you’re having trouble merging cells, try these troubleshooting tips.
- Make sure you are not actively editing a cell you want to merge. The “Merge” icon will be shaded if you are currently making changes. To resolve this issue, simply press “Enter” to stop editing or click another cell before clicking again on the cell you want to merge.
- Check if any of the cells are part of an Excel table. Tables have a unique format that does not allow merging. You can tell you’re on a chart if the “Chart Design” or “Format” tabs at the top of your workbook are highlighted in green and the “Merge” icon is grayed out.
- Look at the sharing permissions of the Excel workbook. If it is not shared with you or if it is protected, you will not be able to make changes or merge cells.
How to unmerge cells
Maybe you were a little excited to try out your new skills and merged one cell too many. Don’t panic. Simply unmerge your cells by following these steps.
- Highlight the cells you want to ungroup.
- Under the Home click the “Merge” icon and choose “Unmerge Cells”.
- Your cells will return to their original format, but you will have lost the information from before the merge.
- If you need this information, click “Command” + Z (OS) or “CTRL” + Z (Windows) to undo your actions until the data appears.
Excel shortcuts make life easier
Although using spreadsheets may seem intimidating at first, with the tips and shortcuts above, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in May 2021 and has been updated for completeness.