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Resizing Data Grid Columns To Content

, 17 Mar 2003
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Method that resizes all the columns of a specified Data Grid object
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Sample Image - SizeColumnsToContent.jpg


One peculiar omission from the Windows Forms teams regarding the DataGrid object is a method that enables you to resize the grid's columns to visually accomodate the width of its widest data value. This method gives you that ability.


While searching for a solution to this problem, a friend emailed me some Visual Basic.NET code to accomplish the feat. While I could not get the code to compile (I'm assuming it was written during one of the .NET betas), I did re-write it in C# and got it to work. I'll update this article to give a proper acknowledgment, once I track down the original author's name. However, I did want to make clear that some kind soul did get me 90% of the way there, with their VB code and I finished the rest for my C# environment.

Using the code


Calling this method is very straightforward. It takes only two parameters:

public void SizeColumnsToContent(DataGrid dataGrid, int nRowsToScan) 
  • dataGrid - The DataGrid object to be resized
  • nRowsToScan - The number of rows to scan, when searching for the widest value for a given column. Passing a value of -1 indicates that all rows should be scanned.


  • In my own code, I have defined this method as a member of my own System.Windows.Forms.DataGrid-derived class (DataGridEx). I removed it from that class for this article, in order to keep things simple. To use the method in the same manner that I did, simply remove the dataGrid parameter from the parameter list and replace the references to dataGrid with reference to the this object.

  • The reason for the nRowsToScan parameter is for performance issues regarding very large amounts of data. If you happen to have a datagrid with a large number of rows, you can simply have the grid's columns sized according to the widest column of the first n rows instead of the method iterating through the entire data set for each column.

SizeColumnsToContent Method

public void SizeColumnsToContent(DataGrid dataGrid, int nRowsToScan) 
    // Create graphics object for measuring widths.
    Graphics Graphics = dataGrid.CreateGraphics();

    // Define new table style.
    DataGridTableStyle tableStyle = new DataGridTableStyle();

        DataTable dataTable = (DataTable)dataGrid.DataSource;
        if (-1 == nRowsToScan)
            nRowsToScan = dataTable.Rows.Count;
            // Can only scan rows if they exist.
            nRowsToScan = System.Math.Min(nRowsToScan, 
        // Clear any existing table styles.
        // Use mapping name that is defined in the data source.
        tableStyle.MappingName = dataTable.TableName;
        // Now create the column styles within the table style.
        DataGridTextBoxColumn columnStyle;
        int iWidth;
        for (int iCurrCol = 0; iCurrCol < dataTable.Columns.Count; 
            DataColumn dataColumn = dataTable.Columns[iCurrCol];
            columnStyle = new DataGridTextBoxColumn();

            columnStyle.TextBox.Enabled = true;
            columnStyle.HeaderText = dataColumn.ColumnName;
            columnStyle.MappingName = dataColumn.ColumnName;
            // Set width to header text width.
            iWidth = (int)(Graphics.MeasureString(columnStyle.HeaderText, 

            // Change width, if data width is wider than header text width.
            // Check the width of the data in the first X rows.
            DataRow dataRow;
            for (int iRow = 0; iRow < nRowsToScan; iRow++)
                dataRow = dataTable.Rows[iRow];
                if (null != dataRow[dataColumn.ColumnName])
                    int iColWidth = (int)(Graphics.MeasureString(dataRow.
                    iWidth = (int)System.Math.Max(iWidth, iColWidth);
            columnStyle.Width = iWidth + 4;
            // Add the new column style to the table style.
        // Add the new table style to the data grid.
    catch(Exception e)


  • March 18, 2003 - First posting


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

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About the Author

Tom Archer
Software Developer (Senior) Microsoft
United States United States
I'm a Senior Programming Writer in the Microsoft Windows Server organization where my focus is WMI, BITS, WinRM, and SMI-S.

Comments and Discussions

GeneralWell.. PinmemberMuammar©25-Sep-07 1:57 
GeneralThanx Pinmemberniljag21009-Jun-06 1:39 
GeneralPocket Pc trouble PinmemberLacran1-Jun-06 6:28 
GeneralStyles Pinmemberrecursion_man25-Apr-06 10:19 
GeneralA few modifications Pinmembersixgun15-Feb-06 6:28 
GeneralRe: A few modifications Pinmemberemreo16-Feb-06 5:15 
GeneralRe: A few modifications Pinmembersixgun16-Feb-06 5:36 
GeneralWorks like a charm! Pinmemberajrulez10-Dec-05 13:36 
GeneralBit Fields Pinmembervrosso12-Oct-05 3:52 
General5693Multiline DataGrid Header Text Pinsussshanu523811-Apr-05 2:56 
GeneralRe: 5693Multiline DataGrid Header Text Pinmemberwws3580123-Jun-05 9:40 
Generalwant to use it for WebApplication Pinmemberweinklein25-Jan-05 2:33 
GeneralRe: want to use it for WebApplication PinmemberTom Archer25-Jan-05 2:49 
GeneralPlease help, overwriting my config PinmemberOnlineNoob12-Jan-04 14:26 
GeneralRe: Please help, overwriting my config PinmemberDruZeree10-Mar-04 11:42 
GeneralRe: Please help, overwriting my config Pinmembercoderforrent3-May-04 12:00 
GeneralExtension proposal PinmemberThaNerd30-Nov-03 6:23 
Generalgood source PinmemberSEUNG-PIL YOO19-Nov-03 19:40 
GeneralRe: good source Pinmemberdeveloper199623-Dec-03 7:20 
Generalplease help cast error PinmemberSashka2-Sep-03 7:47 
GeneralRe: please help cast error PinmemberKhSergey6-Sep-03 14:19 
GeneralRe: please help cast error PinmemberSashka7-Sep-03 6:36 
GeneralRe: please help cast error PinsussDarrell Merrick1-Oct-03 14:57 
GeneralRe: please help cast error PinmemberBoogie7-Nov-03 13:26 
GeneralRe: please help cast error PinmemberTom Archer7-Sep-03 13:48 

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