Excel: Use the Border Tab in Format Cells

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Problem: Borders drive me insane. How can I take control of my borders?

Strategy: If you want your borders to have the same line color and line style, try the draw borders tools at the bottom of the Border dropdown.

  1. Open the border dropdown. At the bottom, choose Line Color, and select a color.
  2. Open the border dropdown again. Open the Line Style flyout and choose a line style.
  3. Open the border dropdown and choose Draw Border Grid. The mouse pointer changes to a pencil. Click and drag to select a range of cells. Those cells will have your chosen line style and color as borders.

  1. Use Draw Borders Grid near the bottom of the dropdown.

    Gotcha: You can keep dragging the mouse to add borders to other ranges. To exit the Draw Borders mode, press the Esc key.

  2. These borders are drawn with Draw Border Grid.

    Additional Details: If you choose Draw Border instead of Draw Border Grid, dragging the cursor draws an outline around the range instead of each cell.

  3. Draw Border surrounds a range.

    Alternate Strategy: To have absolute control over borders, particularly when you want a different style on each side of a border, use the Border tab on the Format Cells dialog.

    Strategy: The trick is to select the color and weight before you draw any borders. After you've selected a color and a line style, then you can begin drawing borders.

    The large white area of the Border tab shows four sides plus a center horizontal and center vertical border. The center borders are enabled only if you are formatting a range of cells. If you are formatting a single cell, you can not choose the center horizontal bar to draw a border through the center of the cell.

  4. The Border tab of the Format Cells dialog.

    Additional Details: You can choose the small buttons around the outside of the white area in the Border tab to select individual border formats. This group also includes diagonal cross-through borders. The diagonal borders cross each cell.

  5. These borders are from the Format Cells dialog.

    Gotcha: It would be nice if the color chosen in the Format Cells dialog would carry through to the border tools in the Border dropdown on the home tab. Instead, use Line Color dropdown at the bottom of the Border dropdown.

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