Everything you need to know about rows and cells in Google Sheets

Recently, we have been on a kick with exploring the endless wonders of Google Sheets and workflow enhancers. The capability to edit your spreadsheets in real-time with other team members — even while we all work from home — is attractive enough on its own. With its cloud-based aspect, GSuite is an optimum option so that you can work on your tasks even if you aren’t connected to the internet. In the remote working age, Google Workspace has proven to be a staple for businesses big and small. For these reasons – and many more – we want to demystify rows and cells for you.

First of all, a cell is a single rectangle in your Google Sheets grid. Spreadsheets are made of many cells and can hold numbers, letters, graphs/charts, and other information to be gathered in one place.

The cells in a spreadsheet are the intersection of columns — the vertical sets of cells on a spreadsheet, represented by a letter — and a row, which is simply the horizontal set of cells represented by numbers.

Add a cell

Perhaps we should start with how to add or create a cell, column, or row. It’s as simple as right-clicking on a cell and choosing from the drop-down menu that pops up. “Insert row,” “insert column,” and “insert cells” are all options listed above “delete row,” “delete column,” and “delete cells,” which function exactly as they say. (Remember, if you make a mistake, you can hit the “back” arrow toward the left of the top menu.) To insert multiple rows, columns, or cells, highlight the number of rows you want to add. Right-click on the highlighted rows and select “Insert X above” or “Insert X below.”

Freeze cells

Many people choose to freeze rows or columns that have important categories listed, so those rows stay visible as you scroll through the underlying information. (For example, if you’ve created a calendar in Google Sheets, the top row would likely include the days of the week in individual cells.) To freeze a row, simply select your desired row by clicking on its corresponding number in the left column. (This should highlight the entire row.) Click “View” in the top menu. Choose “Freeze” from the drop-down. Choose 1, 2, or multiple rows to freeze.

For additional rules on conditional formatting, check out this easy step-by-step for more complicated processes.

Color code

When doing basic formatting within your spreadsheet, you’ll probably want to do some color-coding. This, coupled with other formatting options, can help your eyes track information in your spreadsheet more efficiently. You can accomplish this by selecting the row, column, or cell you’d like to add color to. In the secondary menu, you will see what looks like a paint can tipping. This is the “Fill color” button. Click this, and choose the color you’d like to highlight your selection with.

To further your color formatting with alternating colors in your spreadsheet, select multiple rows or columns, click the paint bucket, and scroll down to “Alternating colors.” This way, you don’t have to worry about individually formatting rows in order to streamline your eyesight for specific data.

Resize cells

Many times, cells aren’t formatted to accommodate all of the information intended for them. Select a row or column to resize its cells. To highlight multiple rows or columns, right-click the row number or column letter. Click “Resize row” or “Resize column”. Then, choose “Enter a custom height or width” or “Fit to data” — I prefer the latter, and choose to do this when I create most spreadsheets — and click “OK.” Another option to quickly fit one row to data is to hover over the line between your cell and the cell next to it until you see an arrow. Then, double click. It will automatically resize to accommodate the biggest cell.

Another way to resize a cell to accommodate your text is to…

Wrap text

A really necessary skill you’ll want to have when operating within Google Sheets is the ability to wrap text within a cell. This command adjusts the height of the cell automatically to fit the information in the cell, making content-heavy cells easy to maneuver. (This works especially well for content calendars and pretty much any spreadsheet that isn’t solely composed of numbers.) Just click on the letter at the top of the column that contains the data you want to be legible. Click “Format” in the top menu. Select “Text Wrapping” from the dropdown menu and then click “Wrap”.

To add spacing between lines or paragraphs in an individual cell, press Alt+Enter on the keyboard.

In-cell drop-down lists

The process of data entry can be completed more efficiently and more accurately with the use of drop-down lists within cells. This helps to limit the number of choices available for the spreadsheet user. To create an in-cell dropdown list, select the cell or cells where you want to create a drop-down list. Click “Data” and then “Data validation.” Next to “Criteria,” choose either “List from a range” (Choose the cells that will be included in the list) or “List of items” (Enter items, separated by commas and no spaces). Each cell will have a down arrow. To remove the arrow, click “Show dropdown list in cell” to uncheck it. If you enter data in a cell that doesn’t match an item on the list, a warning message will appear. If you want people to only enter items from the list, choose “Reject input” next to “On invalid data.” Enact this formatting by clicking “Save.” The cells will show a drop-down list.

Luckily, the GSuite user experience is pretty intuitive. Though we’ve provided you the basic tools to succeed at rows and columns in Google Sheets, clicking the “Data” option from the top menu will actually provide more insight into further formatting your spreadsheet to better serve your needs. Then, consider applying your updated knowledge to a new career path.