Show More Characters in an Excel Cell

I saw this question in Twitter this week:

Anyone know a way to get an Excel cell to take over 255 characters w/o converting to pound signs ###? Wreaking havoc on something I’m trying

Here’s an example – in the following screenshot, cells B2 and B3 contain the same long string of characters.


In column A, you can see the identical character counts for the adjacent cells in column B. In cell B3 the long text simply overflows into the next column, but in cell B2 only the pound signs are visible.

Fix the Problem

Pound signs also show up if a number is too long to display in a cell, and widening the column would fix the problem. However, in this case the cells contain text, not numbers. Widening the column won’t help.

In this example, cell B2 is formatted as Text, and you can fix the problem by formatting the cell as General.

To change the format:

  1. Select cell B2, and on the Ribbon, click the Home tab
  2. In the Number group, click the dropdown arrow for Number format
  3. Click on General. (Note: If you look down the list of formats you’ll see that Accounting and Text show pound signs, instead of the sample text.)



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19 Responses

  1. Dinh says:

    This is awesome tips … thanks so much

  2. Michael says:

    I second Dinh’s thanks – many thanks!

  3. jakethesnake says:


  4. Shashi says:

    Solved my problem. Thanks a lot!

  5. Les says:

    Okay, seriously, if I could kiss you right now I would. MS website was no help at all. Thanks!!!

  6. MAB says:

    Thank you so much! I was pulling my hair out working on a customer survey with text in the cells, and it just didn’t make sense.

  7. You’re welcome! Glad the tip helped you with your customer survey.

  8. Lauren says:

    Thank you so much for the help!!

  9. Kathy says:

    It worked – Thank you!

  10. Kathy Skaggs says:

    Thank you!!! You saved my day!

  11. jothiram says:

    Thank u.. Its Fixed.. Thank u…

  12. PK says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I was trying all kinds of things until I googled “Excel cell ###” and found your blog.

  13. Jon says:

    Thanks for tip! It helped me.

  14. Kelly says:

    Thank you!!! I was going nuts trying to fix the ####!!

  15. Kate says:

    Would Have Taken Me 3 Days to Figure Out! Thank you so much!

  16. Jenny says:

    Do you have any suggestions for when the General data type also shows ##### instead of my text string? I’ve tried toggling back and forth between Text and General and it’s still #### in the cell.

  17. Nirasha says:

    Thanks heaps !!! save a lot of time

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