Last Monday, Excel greeted me with a new error message on my work machine, which happens to be a Mac. When I imported a CSV file and tried to change the row height to the default 16 points, I got the message that Excel row height must be between 0 and 5.68″.
I’ve been changing the default row height back to 16 for decades so I don’t know why Microsoft changed it. But they didn’t ask me. Complaining about it doesn’t help either. So I set out to find a workaround. While I observed this on Excel for a Mac, I would expect some versions of Excel for Windows will behave the same way as well. My copy of Excel 2013 on my Windows box hasn’t changed, but that’s the most recent version I have.
Working around row height must be between 0 and 5.68″
I don’t know when Microsoft changed the behavior, nor am I sure whether Microsoft documented it anywhere. But on a Mac at least, the row height now seems to use your ruler units setting, rather than points. And there is no way to set your ruler units setting to points, not that you’d probably want to do that. Making that change would probably break other things.
In some cases, I understand it’s possible to enter 16pt and have it work, but that didn’t work for me. I had to do some math. I know from taking graphic design in college that a point is 1/72 of an inch. So 16 points is 16/72 of an inch, or .22. If your default measurement is centimeters, you can type .56, or if it’s millimeters, use 5.6.
At least .22 is fairly easy to remember, and easy to type.
Overriding the unit of measure
Even if you use metric units, you can still type .22″ to get a row height approximating 16-point type like you’re used to using. You can also use .56cm or 5.6mm to override your default unit of measure if that’s easier to remember. Specifying the unit right after the number overrides the default.
Using different row heights
If you use something other than 16-point row heights, just do the math. Divide what you’re used to using by 72, and that’s the height in inches. Then convert to metric if needed. Yes, point size is based on fractions of inches, which is why the conversion is necessary.
Other Excel problems and solutions
There are lots of Excel problems that have relatively easy solutions, even if the solutions aren’t obvious. Here are a few more.