Creating rounded corners in Excel Tables

** Please see also the updated article, for XLCubed v7.1 and above: **


Igor Asselbergs was contemplating the value of round corners in design. Is it eye-candy? Or does it add value to the user experience? He comes to the conclusion that rounded corners clearly make a difference.






“On the left side, you see one surface divided by a line. On the right side your eye interprets the image as two adjoining boxes.”

The effect can be explained by the Gestalt Law of Continuity. Gestalt is a set of rules based on research into perception psychology, and a very powerful tool for Excel table design. In table design this effect can help us to see the table columns as a unit.











Did you ever wonder how to create rounded corners in Excel tables?

The basic idea of rounded corners is putting some shape objects into the corners of the column headers.

Here are the steps to create rounded corners:

  • To show the Drawing toolbar, click on the “Drawing” icon in the main toolbar
  • Go to Drawing Bar > Auto Shapes> Basic Shapes and insert an arc and a rectangleimage





  • Right-click the shapes and select Format Auto Shapes > Colors and Lines. Give the arc the fill color of your table headers, and the rectangle the fill color White. Set “no line” for the both. image




  • Right-click the shapes and select Format Auto Shape > Size and assign the arc and the rectangle the size 0.5″x0.5″ and set Lock aspect ratio.
  • Select the rectangle and move it to cell B2 keeping the ALT key pressed. This ensures that shape snaps to the Excel grid. Do the same for the arc so that it overlaps with the white rectangle.image




  • Select the arc and the rectangle and select the right-click command group.
  • To get the corner for the left side copy-paste the shape and go to Draw > Rotate / Flip / Flip Horizontally image




  • Set the Size to 0.18″ if you want rounded corners that have the Excel standard row heightimage



  • And put them left and right of your header cellimage



  • Set the Size to to 0.09″ for corners with 50% row heightimage



  • If your table headers have a different border or fill color, click the corner twice to select the rectangle arc object in the grouped corner object and format the arc with your fill or border colorimage







15 Replies to “Creating rounded corners in Excel Tables”

  1. Too bad Igor’s colored examples were so biased in favor of the rounded corner examples. I would have agreed about rounded corners even if the square corners weren’t presented in such harshly contrasting colors.

  2. Is there a trick to getting the aspect ratio to lock properly for the rectangle? Sometimes I get it to work at 0.5 x 0.5, but sometimes it changes to 0.5 x 0.2, or something similar. Thanks,

  3. Phil,

    It seems that Excel only respects the ‘Lock aspect ratio’ check box when you manually change the measures on the format dialog box and doesn’t when you use the mouse to resize the object. What you can do is to hold down SHIFT while dragging the mouse, to maintain the aspect ratio.


  4. Thank for the tips, it’s a slick effect. Can you also suggest the best way of getting from Excel to an image that avoids fuzzy characters? I’ve been cutting and pasting into a graphics program (e.g. paint or gimp) and then converting to, say, jpg. The result never seems to be as sharp as I would like.

  5. Sean,

    I assume that you want to convert from an Excel Range to an image, right?

    Here are the steps:
    – Select the range
    – Press the SHIFT key and selecting Copy Picture
    – Select the Format Bitmap
    – Paste the Image into Paint
    – And finally save the image a PNG file

    The trick is to press the SHIFT key to get the extended Copy/Paste command.


  6. Andreas,
    I was trying this and could not get it right. The problem was that using 0.19″ as standard height the round corner is a slightly bigger than the standard cell. Using 0.18″ makes it just right. I downloaded your example and found the same issue. I did a little research and standard height is actually 12.75 points, which converts into almost 0.18″ @ 72 points per inch.


  7. Phil,

    I was playing with the “lock aspect ratio” and got the same problem. I think when you click on it while making the rectangle a square at the same time; it disregards the manual changes and “locks” on the rectangle aspect ratio. The solution: make the rectangle a square (changing dimensions first), click on OK. Then go back to properties and lock aspect ratio.


  8. Andreas, I’m having an issue printing rounded corners. Simply opening the provided example file and printing the Rounded Corners tab results in each rounded image being off by a couple pixels. Anyone else experience this problem?

  9. MS should have this cell round corner thing in the next version. Ofcourse it is nice to know the tricks. However too much of tweaking is counter productive..

  10. Is there a fix to the presentation of rounded corners appearing incorrectly when printed? A few people have asked and I can’t see anyone figured this out.

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