Top 9 Google Sheets Formatting Tips for Creating Professional-Quality Spreadsheets

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There are many ways to make Google Sheets beautiful to impress with your visual data. The majority of spreadsheet applications focus on the calculation part, leaving the visualization and formatting of the data to the user.

Therefore, if you do not carefully format your spreadsheet, the audience may find it boring because clear and simple data is not interesting. The same goes for Google Sheets.

Here are some formatting tips you can use to design your Google Sheets spreadsheet so that audiences find it professional and instantly understand.


1. Select the correct font for readability



An overview of the Google Font Pairing tool

Font is vital for your spreadsheet because readability, professional appearance, and cell length depend on it. For Google Sheets, you can’t go wrong if you choose a sans serif font.



Customize the font for readability

Sans-serif fonts increase the clarity and aesthetics of the worksheet. You should also limit the use of the font to a maximum of two different fonts. You can reserve one font for column header texts (Roboto) and the other for actual data (Roboto Mono) in rows.

For a better understanding, you can use the Google Font coupling tool.

2. Include enough white space



Sufficient white space visual

It is important to leave enough empty space around tables, charts, pictures, drawings and pivot tables. Your audience will prefer plenty of white space on your spreadsheet. White space increases the clarity of texts and numbers in any worksheet.

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You can delete the Grid and use strategically Borders according to the data visualization plan, as this will further increase the white space in the worksheet. You can also search for scopes to use whole numbers instead of decimals.

3. Follow a uniform data alignment style



A worksheet with a uniform data alignment style

Horizontal alignment plays an important role in guiding your audience through the data. If you use too many alignment variations, especially for long data, it will be difficult for the audience to relate the header and column of data. You might want to follow these basic rules:

  1. To the left Horizontal alignment for the data column that contains text or items treated as text.
  2. To the right Horizontal alignment for the column that will contain numbers. You can also do this for numbers with decimal places.
  3. Column headers must have a Horizontal alignment like the column below them.

You can also use Text wrapping, to appropriately visualize long texts in columns or rows.

4. Use contrasting shades for alternate rows



Use contrasting shades to alternate rows

The public will easily enter the data if you introduce an alternating coloring scheme for each row. The combination of light gray and white or light blue and white colors works perfectly. You don’t need to do this manually for each row.

You can use the Alternate colors order in Google Sheets. Access Format in the toolbar and select Alternate colors to activate the function. On the right panel, you can customize shades, header color, footer color, etc.

5. Resize gridlines to increase readability



An image of tables with varying height and width of cells

Google Sheets provides an organized structure for large chunks of data such as texts, emails, URLs, and numeric data. Therefore, many data scientists use Sheets to store or present data.

However, Google Sheets cells offer space of up to 100 × 21 pixels by default. This does not mean that part of long texts or emails should remain hidden. You can manually adjust the width and height of the cell. You can try the following:

  1. hurry Ctrl + A to select the entire sheet.
  2. Double click on the border of two Column letters. For example, between the letters in columns A and B.
    A visual of tables with uniform cell height and width
  3. The worksheet will automatically adjust the width of the cell based on the data.
  4. You can also double-click on the border of two Row Letters to automatically adjust the cell height.

6. Add conditional formatting



An image showing conditional formatting effects in Sheets

Conditional formatting allows you to automatically highlight data and save time on manual formatting. If the data in a cell meets a predefined condition, Sheets will automatically format the contents of that cell.

You can find up to 18 conditions in the conditional formatting menu in Google Sheets. But, you can also create a custom condition. Here are some predefined conditions: text contains, date is, greater than, less than, etc.

The image above shows the automatic identification of scores below 80% using the Conditional formatting order under the Format Google Sheets toolbar menu.

Related: Google’s Crazy Leaves Formulas That Are Extremely Useful



Use appropriate headings for tables

You can make your data tables look professional with proper headings. Header texts also help the audience to have a preliminary understanding of the data.

You can use a bold font weight for the table header text, where all letters must be in uppercase. You can use upper case letters for the secondary headers in your table, but do not use Bold police weight.

For units of measure, write them in lowercase and keep them in parentheses. Don’t forget to add contrast Fill color and Text color for the header row.

Use the Painting format command to export formatting to different table headers. Click once on the Painting format to apply formatting to a cell or range of cells.

8. Freeze rows and columns as needed



Freezing rows and columns in Sheets

For long and large data sets, scrolling can be a problem. As the header scrolls, the audience may soon forget about the column headers. To help viewers, you can freeze specific columns and rows so the headers stay in place, and you can easily scroll through long sets of data.

To pin a set of rows or columns, do the following:

  1. Click on the cell in which you want to freeze the rows and columns.
  2. Then click See in the toolbar, then hover over Freeze.
  3. Now choose the number of rows to freeze from the top.
  4. Otherwise, select the Up to the column to pin the column.

9. Create colorful graphics



Customize default charts to colored charts

Just select the range of data you want to include in the chart and head to the Insert tab on the toolbar. Now click on Graphic to insert one automatically. For better visibility, you can customize the colors of the chart.

Double-click on any white space in the graph to bring up the Chart editor panel on the right side. Now you can customize many options like Chart style, Series, Legend, etc.

Related: How to Create a 3D Map in Excel

Spreadsheets don’t have to be boring

By following the style / formatting guides mentioned above, you will be able to customize your Google Sheets spreadsheets quickly and easily. You can also create a blank template with these formatting ideas for regular tasks done on Sheets.

Additionally, create macros for styling / formatting and use them whenever you create a new sheet in the same worksheet.


An illustration of using Google Sheets on a laptop

The advantages and limitations of using macros in Google Sheets

Learn about the pros and cons of Google Sheets macros to get the most out of them.

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