How to use shortcut keys and ribbon options to add borders in Excel

In Excel, borders are lines that you add to the borders of a cell or group of cells. Line styles that can be used for borders include single, double, and dashed lines. The thickness of the lines can vary, as well as the color.

Note : The information in this document applies to versions of Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and Excel for Mac.

About Borders in Excel Worksheets

Borders are formatting features used to enhance the appearance of the worksheet. Borders make it easy to find and read specific data. Borders also draw attention to important data, such as the results of formulas.

Screenshot of Excel showing different border styles

Add borders using a keyboard shortcut

If you prefer to work with the keyboard, use a keyboard shortcut to add a border to the outer edges of one or more selected cells. This shortcut uses the default line weight and color. The key combination to add a border is:

  Ctrl  +  Shift  +  & 

To add a border to a range of cells within an Excel worksheet:

  1. Highlight the desired range of cells in the worksheet.
  2. Hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys .
  3. Press the & key while holding down the Ctrl and Shift keys to surround the selected cells with a black border.

Add borders in Excel using ribbon options

The Borders option is located under the Home tab and can be used to add custom borders to worksheet cells.

Excel screenshot showing how to add borders from the ribbon

To add a custom border:

  1. Highlight the desired range of cells in the worksheet.
  2. Select Home .
  3. Select Borders down arrow to open a drop-down list of border options.
  4. Choose a border style. The selected border appears around the selected cells.

Choose from a variety of border options

When you’re ready to add and format lines and borders in an Excel worksheet, you have several options:

  • Add borders to one or all sides of a cell or block of cells.
  • Choose a line weight.
  • Select from a variety of line styles.
  • Apply a color to a border.
  • Draw borders around irregularly shaped blocks of data with Excel’s Draw Borders feature.

Draw border lines quickly with the Draw Border function

The Draw Borders function is located at the bottom of the Borders drop-down menu. One advantage of using Draw Borders is that you don’t have to select cells first. Instead, once the Draw Border option is selected, borders can be added directly to a worksheet.

Screenshot of Excel showing how to format its borders

Draw Border also contains options to change the color and style of the line. This makes it easy to vary the appearance of the borders used to highlight important blocks of data. Line style options allow you to create borders with:

  • Lines of different thicknesses
  • dotted and dotted lines
  • double lines

To draw border lines with the Draw Border function:

  1. Select Home .
  2. Select the arrow next to Borders to open the dropdown menu. From this list, you can choose a different line color, change the line thickness, and draw border lines around the cells.
  3. Select Line Color and choose the color you want to use for the border.
  4. Select Line Style and choose the line weight you want to apply to the border.
  5. Select Draw Border . The mouse pointer turns into a pencil.
  6. Select the side of a single cell where you want to add a single border.
  7. Drag with the pointer to add an outer border to a cell or group of cells.

Draw with the edge grid

Another option in the Borders list is Draw Grid Borders. With Draw Border Grid, you can add inside and outside borders to one or more cells at the same time. Select Home > Borders > Draw Border Grid and drag the mouse pointer to create borders around the desired cells.

Stop drawing borders

To stop drawing borders, select Borders . Excel remembers the last border type you used, so selecting Borders turns that mode back on.

Excel screenshot showing how to draw a border with the mouse icon

erase a border

The Erase Border option, as its name suggests, makes it easy to remove borders from worksheet cells. Erase Border allows you to remove border lines individually by selecting them. You can remove multiple borders by dragging across those cells.