Text Alignment Keyboard Shortcuts

We’re going to show you how to quickly use keyboard shortcuts to align text both vertically and horizontally within cells in Microsoft Excel (the screenshots used are in Excel 2010, but the relevant sections of the Ribbon and how keyboard shortcuts work with them are exactly the same as in Excel 2007).

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You may have noticed that if you press the Alt key (Alt stands for Alternate) lots of letters appear over the Ribbon (the standard toolbar at the top of Excel). Here’s what it looks like:

Excel Alt Ribbon Keyboard Shortcuts
What the Excel 2010 Ribbon looks like when you press the Alt key

Our text alignment shortcuts are in the Home tab of the Ribbon, so after pressing Alt we press H:

Excel 2010 Ribbon pressing Alt H
Excel Ribbon: Press Alt then H

Once you’ve pressed H you’ll see a whole new batch of letters appear above parts of the Home tab (if you weren’t on the Home tab to start with it will appear). In this example we’re going to Left Align, so you’ll now need to press AL:

Alt HAL to Left Align in Excel
Press Alt HAL to left align

And that’s it! You’ve learned to left align by pressing Alt HAL.

All the other text alignment shortcuts follow the same pattern – they start Alt HA and then the letter for where you want to align.

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I will leave you with a quick summary of all of the basic alignment keyboard shortcuts, may they serve you well:

Excel Align Text Left, Centre, Right
Keyboard Shortcuts to Align Text Left, Centre, Right

Excel Align Text Top, Middle, Bottom

Keyboard Shortcuts to Align Text Top, Middle, Bottom

3 thoughts on “Text Alignment Keyboard Shortcuts”

  1. What an awful design. What the hell was microsoft thinking!? Here is why I hate it the most:
    1) Not only is this alt+key sequence is far more cumbersome than traditional hotkeys, but now I have to memorize a 3-key sequence for useful commands. Most users only remember a hand full of the single-character hotkeys…who the hell is going to benefit when that ‘hand full’ is divided by 4 or 5 (3x the keys, + 3-key sequence)?
    2) A vast majority of the hotkeys uses DO learn are learned because their utility extends beyond individual programs. Cut, copy, and paste of course, but as far as office products go it is incredibly handy that they use similar hotkeys like CTRL+{L,E,R} to justify. You know what hotkeys nobody learns? The hotkeys that are only used for a single program. Now Excel’s hotkeys are all unique, and a horrible 3-keystroke sequence which will not help us to work efficiently anywhere else except Excel. What angers me the most about this is I don’t even get the choice–Excel, and the other MS Office applications as a whole spent so many years as a quality office suite that their use has become standard, and now that they’re standardized we can’t so easily get rid of them. Now MS can do what they want, and we have to bend over and take it.
    3) An extension to 2 — making software that is controllable by the same mechanics that is shared across other popular software is smart (e.g. mouse to move a cursor to the interface) . Making software that is controllable by the same mechanics, but ignoring the established rules and making up your own is stupid (e.g. mouse to move the interface to a cursor and then using buttons to move and movements to click). Making software suites and making your own mechanics and making different rules for each software package is just mean. MS Word I hit CTRL+E to center justify my text. Excel I hit ALT+H,A,…f*** it, I’m going to openoffice.org.

  2. I share many of Michael’s sentiments but he gives Microsoft way too much credit . What brought me to this page was being forced to locate a keystroke combination for Excel to make my life easier instead of being locked into Micrsoft’s silly, infantile, backward, cumbersome, mouse- and menu-driven world, where they assume everyone has the mental apptitude of a two-year-old.

    In all the history of Microsoft software, specifically its so-called Office Suite products – particularly Excel and Word – the only thing Microsoft ever did was steal the good works of Lotus 123 and WordPerfect and screw them up. The only thing Microsoft ever did was rearrange the menus of Lotus 123 and WordPerfect. A couple examples: as for Excel, MS took Lotus 123′s simple formula protocols and made them cumbersome and requiring more keystrokes. Whereas tables and formatting them in WordPerfect was simple and keystroke driven, with Word it’s impossible to even figure out how to do something – everything is hidden in some menu and even then you are limited. I spent hours searching online forums and even expert users didn’t agree and most didn’t have any solution.

    Where MS succeeded was in marketing, having tons of money, and with that money hired good teams of attorneys.

    The use of 123 and WordPerfect: 1) is intuitive; 2) is consistent across tasks and applications; 3) is consistent from version to version; 4) requires only easy, brief, consistent, intuitive keyboard shortcuts; 4) has readily available Help if it IS needed loaded right in the program with no need to wait for web-based Help to gear up, or worse, have no help available whatsoever, forcing MS users – CUSTOMERS – to go to online forums where you essentially have customers helping customers; when you do get MS’s Help menu loaded in, it is so disorganized you can’t find anything.

    MS software is garbage, and the only reason I use it is everybody else does, thanks to Microsoft marketing and getting away with all sorts of monopoly and copyright infringement. Not to mention, MS can’t put out a new version of anything – whether it’s an OS or software – without hundreds of glitches that need fixing.

  3. There are literally hundreds of commands, so I don’t think it’s feasible to use a CTRL – option for everything. Using the ALT keyboard strokes, you don’t need to memorize, as the menu will pop up and you can see the letters needed. I see this as a fair compromise.

    Once you use a particular shortcut often it will be committed to memory just by practice. I give them credit because they incorporated Excel 2003 ALT keyboard shortcuts into Excel 2007 and later so they didn’t leave these users behind. Frankly, I don’t even know the new shortcut to create a Pivot Table. I use ALT-D-P which still works.

    At least you can navigate to nearly every command by keyboard. Try doing this on Mac Excel.

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