Watch Video – How to Indent Text in Google Sheets
If you prefer reading over watching a video, below is a complete written tutorial on how to indent in Google Sheets.
While Google Sheets has many amazing features, it does lack some of the basic ones. One such feature is the ability to indent cell content in Google Sheets. It’s such a simple thing that a lot of people often need. If you want to know how to tab in Google Sheets, unfortunately, there’s no way to use a tab to indent text in a cell. Instead, the tab key is used to navigate to the next cell.
There are, however, some workarounds that you can use. In this tutorial, I will show how to indent in Google Sheets in a few simple ways.
Table of Contents
How To Index in Google Sheets
To indent text:
- Select the cells by holding Ctrl and clicking
- Go to “Format” > “Number”
- Click the “Custom number format” option
- Paste “ @” in the text bar (without the quotes)
- Click “Apply”
How To Indent in Google Sheets Using Custom Number Formatting with an Example
Custom Number formatting in Google Sheets determines how we see the text or a value in a cell. You can find it in the “Format” menu.
Remember, the custom number format only changes the format of the text or value in the cell and not the value itself. For example, you can have the value 44196 displayed as 44196.00 or 44,196 or 12/31/2020. These are all displayed in different formats while holding the same value in the cell.
While this is mostly used for formatting numbers, we can also use it for cell formatting by giving it some custom format. And in this method, that’s what we are going to do.
Suppose you have a list as shown below, and you want to show the category as normal text but the item in the category with a Google Sheet indent to the right (as shown in the image below).
But when you enter these values in Google Sheets, you end up with a list with the same indentation.
Below are the steps to add indentation to the items (while keeping the Category text as is):
- Select the cells for which you want to apply the indentation.
- Hold the Ctrl key and then select these cells to ensure all cells are selected (even if these are non-contiguous)
- Click the “Format” option
- Hover the cursor over the “Number” option in the “Format” menu. It will show additional options on the right.
- Click on “Custom Number Formatting.” This will open the “Custom number formats” dialog box.
- In the “Custom number formats” dialog box, enter the following custom format (in the field at the top): “@” (without the double quotes).
- In this step, I am manually specifying that I need an indent of three space characters
- I have used three space characters followed by the “@” sign
- Click on “Apply”
The above steps will give you the final result, as shown below.
To reiterate, by adding the Google spreadsheet indent using custom number format, you only have to change how the text looks in the cell, not the actual text in the cell.
If you want more indentation, you can use more space characters. You can also get more creative and show some markers for the list. For example, you can use the below custom number format (use without the double quotes) to show a representation of a bulleted list:
- ” >> @”
- ” — @”
- ” ✔ @”
You can find our example sheet below.
How To Apply Indentation to New Cells
When you apply this indentation in Google Sheets to some cells, you get the desired output.
But what if you add more items to the list or more categories? You can again do the same steps shown above and get the same formatting, but there is a quicker way.
You can copy the formatting from the cells that already have the indentation applied and then paste the formatting to the new cells where you need to apply the indent. Since this is a simple copy-paste, it’s faster than applying the formatting to multiple columns every time you have these.
Below are the steps to copy indentation from one cell and apply it to others in Google Sheets:
- Copy the cell where you already have indentation (select and press Ctrl + C)
- Select all the cells where you want the indentation to be applied
- Right-click on any of the selected cells
- Hover the cursor over the “Paste Special” option
- In the additional options that show up on the right, click on “Paste Format only”
That’s it! This will copy the format from the copied cell and apply it to the selected cell. This will copy the format from the copied cell and apply it to the newly selected cell. You can apply this to multiple columns.
Note: When you copy a format from a cell in Google Sheets, it copies the entire format. For example, apart from the indentation, you must also have applied a border and a background color to the cell. When you copy and paste the format of it to another cell, the border and color will also be copied (along with the Google Sheets indent text).
While this is my preferred method of adding indentation in Google Sheets, there is another (simple and out of the box) way of adding indentation to cells in Google Sheets.
How To Indent in Google Sheets Using a Function
You can also use some functions to indent texts in Google Sheets. This is especially useful if the cells you want to indent have a formula or a result of a formula. A good function to use to indent is the ARRAY function.
Here’s how to indent in a Google Sheet using the ARRAY function:
- In a cell, type:
- In the brackets, type quotation marks (“ ”) but leave them empty
- Select the column or cells that you want to indent
You can control the amount of indentation by adding or removing space inside the quotation marks.
How To Add Indentation by Adding a Column
This method may not be ideal for everyone, as it requires you to split your list and put these into two separate columns. But it does offer the benefit of being super easy to manage once you have set it up.
Below is the data set where I want to indent the list items. Follow these steps to add indentation to list items:
- Select the entire column which has the indentation
- In this example, it’s column A
- Click on the top of the column label (where it says A)
- Right-click and select “Insert 1 left.” This will insert one column to the left of the selected column.
- Resize the column on the left. The size of this column will be the level of indentation you want in the data.
- Copy and paste the category cells in the column on the left (Column A in this example). Leave the list item values as is in Column B.
- Delete the text from the category cells in column B (as you have already copied it to column A).
That’s it! This added column gives the impression that there has been an indentation in this dataset, while in reality, we have just used two different columns.
While it’s not as neat as using the custom number formatting method, it does offer one benefit. When you have a new list of items or category items, you can enter those in the relevant column without worrying about the indentation.
These methods will allow you to indent values in Google Sheets (despite not having an inbuilt functionality to do this).
There is also a third method to use Google Apps Script (code available here). However, I still prefer the two methods above, as using Google Apps Script can become more difficult and offers no significant advantage over the two methods covered in this tutorial.
How To Indent in Google Sheets Manually
You can also add indentation manually in Google Sheets by adding a space character before the text or values. Here’s how to indent in Google Sheets within a cell:
- Double-click on the cell with the text
- Put your cursor before the text
- Click the space bar to add space before the text. You can decide the amount of indentation by how many times you click the spacebar.
Remember that this method can be tiring if you have multiple cells you want to indent.
How To Indent the Entire Sheet
So far, we have shown you how to indent cells in Google Sheets. If you want to indent your entire sheet at once, the best way is by using the column method. This method is more manageable for the entire sheet and easy to do.
Removing Indenting in Google Sheets
Since you now know how to indent within a cell in Google Sheets, how about removing them? You can remove indenting in Google Sheets in various ways depending on how you inserted them. If you used the custom number format, you can remove the formatting by:
- Highlighting the cells
- Navigate to “Format” > “Clear formatting”
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you Indent in Google Sheets?
Although there’s no feature in Google Sheets to indent text in a cell, there are a number of ways you can work around this to achieve the same results.
You can use a custom number formatting to indent a range of cells. You can also create a new column and resize it to act as an indent. Finally, you can use a formula like the ARRAY FORMULA to add blank characters to act as indents.
What About When You Have Two Lines of Text via Wrap Text?
When you have two lines of text, like via a wrap text command, sometimes you can only indent the first line. In this case, you will have to add Google Sheets indents manually using the space bar. Just note where the line breaks off and add spaces in between until you get the desired indentation.
In this article, we have shown you how to indent in Google Sheets using multiple methods. These include using custom number formatting, using new columns, and using the ARRAY FORMULA.
I hope you found this Google Sheets tutorial useful. You may also be interested in our guide for how to strikethrough in Google Sheets.
- How To Underline in Google Sheets
- Convert Formulas to Values in Google Sheets
- How To Insert Checkbox in Google Sheets
- How To Zoom-In and Zoom-Out in Google Sheets
- How To Hide Gridlines in Google Sheets
- How To Unmerge Cells in Google Sheets
- Google Sheets Limitations
- How To Make Text Vertical In Google Sheets (Rotate Text)