How to Format Cells in Google Sheets

Formatting is an incredibly broad term when it comes to document and spreadsheet processing. There are literally thousands of different formatting options. Luckily, it’s not as difficult as that makes it seem. Join us in this detailed step-by-step guide that shows you exactly how to format cells in Google Sheets to learn everything you need to know to get started.

The Quickest Google Sheets Formatting Guide Ever

There are plenty of formatting tips and tricks in Google Sheets. And like calculating compound interest in a cell, you can do almost all of it quite easily. All you have to do is:

  1. Highlight the cells you want to format.
  2. Click the Format menu
  3. Select the type of formatting you’d like to apply

How to Format Cells in Google Sheets

There are several ways to start formatting in Google Sheets. Let’s take a look at some of them. Starting off with the simplest—formatting text in Google Sheets.

Google Spreadsheet Format the Font

Changing the font size of cells makes them easier to read and can focus attention on the most important content inside your spreadsheet.

Using a bigger font, let’s look at how we can ensure the header cells stand out. To do this:

How format cells in Google Sheets
  1. Click and select one or more cells you wish to change the text font size.
  2. From the toolbar, click on the Font Size option. A drop-down menu will appear where you can choose a font size.
  3. Click on the font size of your liking. In this example, we used a font size of 14, so the text is larger.

Changing the Font Style

Using a font different from the rest of the spreadsheet helps you separate the important parts (or just makes your whole sheet fancier). For example, you can change the font of the header cells, so it is different from the other cells in your spreadsheet.

Here is how to format in Google Sheets by changing the font style:

How to change font style in Google Sheets
  1. Select one or more cells that you wish to modify the font of.
  2. From the toolbar menu, click on the Font option. By default, it will show Default (Arial).
  3. A drop-down menu will appear, letting you choose your new font. For example, here, we chose the font named Pacifico. The font will be changed for all the cells that you selected.

You can also select Default (Arial) again to remove the different formatting.

Changing the Text Color

You can change the text color to make the reader aware of a property of the text without needing to look at it. One example is representing a passing student’s name in green while a failing student’s name is shown in red.

Here is how to change the color of the text:

How to change font color in Google Sheets
  1. Click on one or more cells you wish to modify.
  2. From the toolbar, choose the Text color option. A drop-down menu will open where you will see different colors.
  3. Choose any color that you wish to use.

Google Sheets Formatting Cells by Adding Typographical Emphasis

Typographical emphasis allows you to increase the impact of a word by using a different font style. Some commonly used typographical emphasis include bold, italics, underline and strikethrough.

Here is how to do this:

How to change typographical emphasis in Google Sheets
  1. Click on one or more cells that you wish to modify.
  2. Choose the Bold, Italics, Underline, or Strikethrough option. You can also do this using the Ctrl+B, Ctrl+I, Ctrl+U, and Alt+Shift+5 keyboard shortcuts, respectively.

Don’t forget. You can use these options together as well.

How Do You Format Cells in Google Sheets by Altering Cell Sizes?

To make your content fit in the cells, you must increase and decrease the row and column sizes. Here is how you can do this:

  1. Take your cursor to a column or a row’s label intersection.
  2. When the cursor is changed to a two-way arrow, the intersection becomes thicker, and the color turns blue.
  3. Now, you can simply click, hold, and move the cursor on the intersection to adjust the row or column size.

You can also select the whole row or a column by clicking on the header of the row or column. Right-click and select the header to resize the row or column. You can also double-click, which enables Google Sheets to resize the width and height of the cells automatically.

Adding Cell Borders

Cell borders help the spreadsheet to create defined boundaries along the different parts of the spreadsheet.

To add cell borders:

How to add borders to cells in Google Sheets
  1. Select one or more cells that you wish to modify.
  2. Choose the Borders option from the toolbar.
  3. From the drop-down menu, select a border of your own choice. The cell borders that you created will appear.

Adding cell borders can be very useful if you’re looking to make a table in Google Sheets.

Changing Fill Color

The fill color changes the color of the background, which can help you know what data a cell contains without the need to read it.

Here are the steps on how you can do this:

How to add fill colors in Google Sheets
  1. Choose one or more cells that you wish to modify.
  2. From the toolbar, click on the Fill Color option.
  3. From the drop-down menu, select a color of your choice. For example, we changed the colors to green and red.

You can also use Google Sheets conditional formatting based on another cell to show different fill colors based on specific criteria.

Related: Format Painter in Google Sheets: Copy Conditional Formatting

Changing Data Format

Changing data formats in Google Sheets is crucial as it allows you to represent numerical values properly. Here’s a few different ways you can format numbers in Google Sheets.

Use Your Local Currency

Spreadsheets are often used to hold financial information. Assume you wish to represent the prices of some items. Using the price of $100 makes much more sense than just having 100 there. This is why converting currency into the proper format is very useful.

Here is how you can do this:

How to add currency symbols in Google Sheets
  1. Select the row or column you wish to apply the format to. You can do this by selecting the individual cells or clicking on the header bar to highlight the entire column or row.
  2. Click on the Format as Currency sign in the main toolbar. This will apply the currency formatting to the selected cells.

Using Non-Local Currency

The symbols of the currency give clues to the users that the numbers on the spreadsheet are different from the standard USD.

Here are the steps to show how you can change the currency symbol:

How to add custom currency symbols in Google Sheets
  1. When your data is highlighted, click on the More Formats option in the main toolbar. This will open a drop-down menu.
  2. Now, choose the Custom Currency option.
  3. You can choose any currency symbol. This will localize a Google spreadsheet.
  4. Click Apply to save the changes.

One thing you need to remember is that this feature does not automatically convert the currency. It just changes the symbol of the currency. In the example above, we used the Euro symbol.

Custom Date Formats

Changing the format and how your data is shown is relatively easy. Here is how you can do this:

  1. Select the data you wish to modify.
  2. Click on the More Formats option from the toolbar.
  3. Here, select the Custom date and time option.
  4. From the pop-up window, customize your date format.
  5. You can also choose the pre-built options which you can choose from the pop-up list, or your can create your custom time or date format.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Format All Cells Quickly?

Use the Ctrl + A keyboard shortcut to select all the cells you and apply the formatting you want from the main toolbar towards the top of the screen. To change the sizes of the cells, click and drag across the headers and right-click on them.

What Is the Shortcut to Format Cells?

Here are some of the keyboard shortcuts you should know for formatting in Google Sheets:

  • Bold using Ctrl + B
  • Underline using Ctrl + U
  • Italic using Ctrl + I
  • Strikethrough using Alt + Shift + 5
  • Center align using Ctrl + Shift + E
  • Left align using Ctrl + Shift + L
  • Right align using Ctrl + Shift + R

Wrapping Up

We hope you found this beginner’s guide showing you how to format cells in Google Sheets helpful. We have plenty of other guides available to help you become a spreadsheet master. Check out some of our related content below to keep learning. Or, consider taking a course, so your learning is more structured.


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