How to merge cells in Google Sheets

Learning how to merge cells in Google Sheets can significantly enhance your spreadsheets, but do it cautiously because merged cells may break formulas and filters! This guide is designed to walk you through everything you need to know to both merge and unmerge cells.

Whether you want to improve readability, organize data, or highlight information, merging cells in Google Sheets is a fundamental skill, and knowing when to use it is even more important.

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Why merge cells?

Merging cells in Google Sheets can enhance the readability and appearance of your spreadsheets. It is not a matter of style but rather all about functionality.

Be aware that when you merge a cell only the top-leftmost value will stay on it, and you will not be able to filter values on that cell, and even might break some formulas, so never merge cells on a spreadsheet that you are still analysing, or inputting data.

Here are some common uses of cell merging:

  • Headers: Merging gives column and row headers a clean look, it also allows you to sort them into categories.
  • Creating Categories: When organizing data into categories and subcategories, merging cells can make these subdivisions visually identifiable.
  • Emphasizing Key Data: Sometimes, specific data points or summaries need to stand out. Merging cells around important information can put it in the spotlight where everybody will see it.

Merging cells is a good feature to make your spreadsheets easier to read and understand, it can be appealing to use it everywhere, but you need to know the risks.

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Precautions when merging cells

Merging cells comes with its own set of challenges. There’s a few thing to consider to ensure the integrity of your spreadsheet:

  • When merging, Google Sheets keeps only the data of the upper-leftmost cell. If other cells had values they will be lost.
  • You can’t sort or filter across merged cells.
  • Copy and Paste errors when copying from merged cell if the target area does not align with merged area.
  • Merging cells can affect cell ranges in formulas.
  • Merging cells can affect charts because it will not reference the right cell.
  • Pivot tables will not accept merged cells thus making data analysis harder.
  • AppScript will not work with merged cells.
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How to merge cells in Google Sheets

Merging cells in Google Sheets is super simple. Here’s how to merge cells, covering the different types of merges you might need: horizontally, vertically, and all directions.

  • Select cells to merge: Click and drag your mouse across the cells you want to merge. You can select cells across rows (for a horizontal merge), down columns (for a vertical merge), or both (to merge in all directions).
  • Click Merge cells: You will find this feature in the toolbar. It’s not a very transparent icon but once you use it you won’t forget it. You can also click on the arrow beside this icon to merge all cells in a range vertically or horizontally.

That’s it! Now you know how to merge cells in Google Sheets

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How to unmerge cells in Google Sheets

Unmerging cells in Google Sheets is just as simple as merging them:

  • Select the merged cell: Click on the merged cell you want to unmerge.
  • Click Merge cells: This is the same button you used before, but if you select a merged cell it will unmerge it.

When unmerged, the content from the merged cell stays in the upper-leftmost cell, leaving the others empty. You’ll need to manually distribute any content as needed.

Connect, merge, filter or split your spreadsheets

Google Sheets merge cells shortcut

While Google Sheets doesn’t have a direct keyboard shortcut to merge cells, you can still do it without lifting your hands off the keyboard.

Here’s a quick method to merge cells:

  • Select Cells: Again, the first step is to select the cells you want to merge. Press Shift plus the arrow keys if you want to do it with your keyboard.
  • Open Format Menu: Press Alt + O (or Option + O on Mac) to open the Format menu.
  • Merge Cells Command: Then, press M to select the Merge cells option. If you need to choose a specific merge type, use the arrow keys to navigate to your choice.
  • Press Enter

While not technically a shortcut this will help if you think reaching for the mouse is a waste of time.

Better alternatives to merge cells in Google Sheets

Okay, by now you should know how to merge a cell, and most important when to not merge a cell, but what are the alternatives?

  • Use overflow and spaces for headings: Select the Format > Wrapping > Overflow in the menu will make text overflow the cell, then it’s a matter of adding spaces before the title to align it where you want.
  • Use text wrap for containing large KPI’s and text: in the same menu you can select wrap to make the cell expand with its content, it’s useful to have a large KPI in display or even a block of text.

But wait! You can do even more with Sheetgo, our unique integration and workflow automation can help you not only build dashboards, and pdf reports, but keep them always up to date automatically.

Learn here how to generate a PDF report based on all the actual data in your spreadsheet, and even send it by Gmail automatically.

And if you want an intuitive and interactive Dashboard that is responsive and will work on any device, look no further, Sheetgo can help you too, Read this article to learn more about it.

Merge away!

That’s it for this guide on how to merge cells in Google Sheets. You’ve learned how this feature, while simple, has the power to drastically improve the organization and presentation of your data, or break all the work you’ve done.

So when merging cells you need to weight in the potential risks—such as data loss, disrupted formulas, and impaired sorting and filtering capabilities—highlight the need for careful consideration before implementing in your spreadsheet.

With the steps and precautions outlined in this guide, you’re now equipped to enhance your Google Sheets. This should be a great benefit for yourself and for everyone else who works with your spreadsheets.

And if you want to do even more, and not have any risk of data loss, count on Sheetgo solution to improve your reports and automate your workflows.

Now that you know how to merge cells, why not learn How to combine Google Sheets by merging multiple sheets.

Ready to streamline your spreadsheet data?

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