4 Ways to Rotate Text In Google Sheets

This post is going to show you all the ways you can rotate text in Google Sheets.

Usually, the text is displayed horizontally in Google Sheets but it is possible to rotate this to show vertically or any other desired angle. This can help with fitting your text into more narrow columns.

There are three avenues from which you can access the text rotation feature in Google Sheets.

  1. From the Toolbar.
  2. From the Format menu tab.
  3. From the Drawings tool in textbox shapes and wordart.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of text rotation and see how it works.

Rotate Text from the Toolbar

Row and Column headers are simple yet fundamental attributes that are necessary for a dataset to make sense. But adding headers come with a few challenges. More often than not, your column or row header doesn’t fit your cell size.

To prevent headers from going into other cells, you will have to get creative.

There are a host of things you can do. You can expand the width or height of your column or row, insert a line break into the cell, wrap the text, or abbreviate the heading text.

But there’s another option that you can use to keep things compact. That option is the rotate text feature.

The toolbar is directly beneath the Menu options, and it provides easy access to useful settings and format tools.

If you minimize the spreadsheet screen, or you zoom into the spreadsheet, the full toolbar menu may not be on display.

To access the full menu, find the three dots on the right-hand side of the toolbar and click on this.

In this sample dataset, some of the month headers don’t display their full names. And the row header for the year is almost entirely out of view.

You can use the rotate format to fix this.

Follow these steps to use text rotation.

  1. Select the cell or range of cells containing the items you want to rotate.
  1. Go to the toolbar and click on the Text rotation icon.
  2. Select the desired rotation option.

You will get a drop-down list of various rotation options when you click on Text rotation. The Text rotation options in the drop-down menu are listed and explained in the order in which they appear from left to right.

  • None: This is the default setting. With this option, texts are entered into cells vertically from left to right. You can also use it to remove any applied text rotation setting.
  • Tilt up: This setting tilts up text at an angle from right to left.
  • Tilt down: This setting tilts down text at an angle from left to right.
  • Stack vertically: This setting, texts are monospaced, centre-aligned, and are re-arranged from top to bottom. The first letter from the left will appear at the top of the stack, and this pattern continues until the last letter appears at the bottom. This setting will automatically increase the height of your cells.
  • Rotate up: This setting produces similar results as the Stack vertically setting, but with a few key differences. The texts are not monospaced, and they’re not aligned to the centre. The text is only rotated at an angle of 90°, and the text displays bottom to top.
  • Rotate down: This is similar to the Rotate up option but texts are rotated rotated at an angle of -90°, and the text displays top to bottom.
  • Custom angle: This option is useful for specifying preferred rotation angles. If you don’t want to use any of the pre-set text rotation options, you can use the Custom angle text box to specify the angle at which you want your text to rotate.

You can also use the drop-down arrow to access the list of the pre-set angles from which you can choose a custom angle.

In the list, you will notice that the angles range from negative to positive angles. The sign in front of the angles indicates the direction of rotation.

Negative angles will rotate texts so it displays top to bottom.

Positive angles will rotate texts so it displays bottom to top.

Rotate text from the Format Menu

You can access the same rotation options in the toolbar in the Format tab menu.

  1. Click on the Format menu tab.
  2. Select Rotation from the menu options.

To rotate the row header of the sample data using the Format menu, follow these steps.

  1. Select all the cells to where the row labels apply and merge them.

To merge cells you can go to the Format menu ➜ Select the Merge cells option ➜ Select Merge all.

  1. Add the Rotate up command or any other rotation option from the submenu.

You can apply any other rotate command and it will work the same as it will when you use the rotate command in the toolbar.

Rotate Text with the Drawing Tools

Asides from rotating text using the Format menu or Toolbar option, you can use the options from Drawings to rotate the text.

Follow these steps to open the Drawing tools.

  1. Go to the Insert menu.
  2. Select Drawing from the menu options.

You will get a canvas on which you can create objects that can be inserted above your sheet.

There are two options that Drawing offer for text rotation. they are the WordArt and Text box options.

Rotate Text with a Text Box

Follow these steps to insert a text box in the canvas.

  1. Go to the Toolbar above the drawing canvas and select the Text box icon.

After you select the text box, the mouse arrow changes into a black cross.

  1. Right click and drag to create a text box in the canvas.

When the text box has reached a suitable size, release the mouse key.

With the text box inserted, you get a host of formatting options in the toolbar.

Now that the text box is inserted, type the text you want in it. Use the small square boxes on the edges of the text box to resize the text box in order to reflect the size of the text.

You can also use the Resize shape to fit text icon to resize the text box.

To rotate the text box, place the black cross on the small circle at the top of the text box. This is the rotation handle.

Right-click and drag the rotation handle to your preferred angle of rotation, then release the right-click button.

As you click and drag, you get a preview of the angle of rotation. In drawings, the angle of rotation goes from 0° to 360°.

When you get a preferred angle, press the Esc key on your keyboard or click on an empty location inside the canvas. Then click on Save and close.

The object you’ve created in the Drawing tool is brought into the sheet.

Place your mouse on the drawing until you see the hand icon, then use it to move the drawing to your preferred location in the spreadsheet. You can use the small squares on the edges to resize the image.

Unfortunately, the rotation handle does not appear with the shape when it’s been inserted onto the sheet. To adjust the rotation, you will need to edit the text box in the Drawing tool.

To edit the text box shape, use the three dots on the top right-hand corner of the drawing or simply double-click on the image.

Rotate Text with WordArt

Follow these steps inside the Drawing tool to access the Word art option.

  1. Go to the the Actions menu.
  2. Select Word art from the menu options.

You will get a text box after you click on the Word art option. Type in the text you want to rotate in the Word art text box.

Press Enter to save the text afterward.

The text is turned into a graphic and you can use the border and fill color options to apply your preferred formatting.

There is a small circle at the top of the image. This is the rotation handle.

Click and drag the rotation handle to rotate the text to the desired angle.

Click on Save and close to insert the image into the spreadsheet.

Move the Word art to your preferred location.

Remove Text Rotation

Rotating text is a great option, but how can you remove it when you don’t want to use it anymore?

Follow these steps if you need to remove rotated text from your spreadsheet.

  1. Select all the cells from which you want to remove text rotation.
  2. Click on the Rotate text icon in the Toolbar.
  3. Click on None from the Text rotation options.

The selected text will now display in the default horizontal fashion.

You can also remove any text rotation from the Format menu.

  1. Go to the Format menu.
  2. Select Rotation from the options.
  3. Select None from the submenu options.

Your selected text will be reverted back to the usual horizontal format.

Conclusion

Text rotation is a great option for displaying column headings, but you can apply text rotation to any part of your spreadsheet.

While it’s called text rotation, you can also use it to rotate numbers.

Text rotation can bring a little bit of artistic style to your spreadsheet and it’s simple to use as well. It makes the column and row headers stand apart from the rest of the data.

Even without adding colors or other formatting options, anyone can easily spot the column headings when rotated.

Text rotation may not be a feature you will use often, but it’s definitely one to add to your spreadsheet knowledge arsenal.

Are there any text rotation tips we missed? How often and in what instances do you apply the text rotation? Let me know down in the comments section!

About the Author

Oluwaseun Olatoye

Oluwaseun Olatoye

Oluwaseun is a business intelligence analyst with expertise in Google Sheets and SQL programming language. He has worked with various businesses to make data-driven decisions. He enjoys helping others learn and grow.

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