32 incredibly useful Google Sheets tips

2019 04 15 11.56.03

I’ll admit it: For almost all of my grownup life, spreadsheets have remained shrouded in thriller. I’ve used them a lot, in fact—to trace revenue, examine statistics, even preserve databases for numerous varieties of work-related data—however I’ve at all times felt like I’ve barely been scratching the floor of what they’re in a position to do.

And that’s a disgrace. With Google Sheets specifically, sticking solely to spreadsheet fundamentals appears akin to sitting on a mountain of untapped potential. The service has a profusion of superior features, choices, and shortcuts, however till you establish and internalize them, you’re getting solely a fraction of the worth it may well present.

So in spite of everything these years, I made a decision to take motion. I dug deep into Sheets’ darkest nooks and crannies to uncover a few of its most useful and simply neglected options. Whether or not you’re an off-the-cuff spreadsheet explorer or a extra bold data-crunching professional, I’d be keen to wager there are many worthwhile prospects simply ready so that you can uncover, too.

Learn on, and prepare to take your Google Sheets expertise to a complete new stage.


Whereas a few of these objects may also work within the Sheets’ cell apps, the directions under are all for the service’s net model.

Save time with shortcuts

1. The subsequent time you should create a brand new spreadsheet, save your self the difficulty of opening up the primary Google Sheets web site and clicking by the instructions there. As a substitute, simply sort “sheet.new” immediately into your browser’s tackle bar. So long as you’re already signed into your Google account, that’ll begin a brand new spreadsheet for you, irrespective of the place you’re on the net. (You may also sort “sheets.new” or “spreadsheet.new,” if you happen to choose.)

2. Sheets has loads of keyboard shortcuts, however one sequence that’s particularly value noting is the gathering of instructions that shortly insert the present date and/or time wherever you need: Hit Ctrl or Cmd and the semicolon key so as to add the date, Ctrl or Cmd together with Shift and the semicolon key so as to add the time, and Ctrl or Cmd together with Alt and Shift and the semicolon key so as to add the date and time collectively.

3. Google Sheets’ fast-formatting shortcuts are additionally value remembering. With the correct mixture of keys, you’ll be able to format any cell or choice of cells nonetheless you need, with out having to dig round in menus. Commit these to reminiscence:

  • Ctrl-Shift-1: Format as decimal
  • Ctrl-Shift-2: Format as time
  • Ctrl-Shift-3: Format as date
  • Ctrl-Shift-4: Format as forex
  • Ctrl-Shift-5: Format as proportion
  • Ctrl-Shift-6: Format as exponent

4. You possibly can even create your individual customized shortcut inside Sheets to carry out a posh sequence of customized actions with a single command. Open the Instruments menu, choose Macros, after which choose Document macro. If you need the shortcut to at all times be carried out on the identical particular cells, choose “Use absolute references”; in any other case, choose “Use relative references.” Then carry out no matter actions you wish to document.

You could possibly do one thing like set a particular type of formatting for a cell’s contents (bolded white textual content with the Open Sans font and a dark-gray background, for example) or you could possibly manipulate information in a extra concerned method, like copying a cell’s contents after which erasing that cell and pasting the contents one cell over to the left. If you’re completed, click on the Save button within the macro-recording panel, and also you’ll be capable of give your new shortcut a reputation and assign it to any out there key mixture for future activation.


5. Talking of copying a cell’s contents, if you happen to ever have to duplicate a cell’s information and have it seem in a number of cells above it, under it, or on both facet of it, click on the unique cell to stipulate it in blue, then search for the little blue sq. in its lower-right nook. Click on that sq. and drag it in no matter route you need, for so far as you want. If you let go, the unique cell’s contents will immediately seem in the entire different cells you chose.

6. Freeze rows in a flash: Simply hover your mouse over the underside of the cell in any spreadsheet’s upper-left nook—that very first cell immediately above “1”  and to the left of “A.” If you see the hand image seem, click on it and drag down for as many rows as you wish to freeze, then let go. Whichever rows you choose will at all times stay in place and visual on the prime of your spreadsheet, irrespective of how far you scroll down.

7. Yet one more click-and-drag shortcut to sear into your cerebellum: For those who’re ever working with an particularly lengthy method and will use extra space to see all of it, hover your mouse over the decrease fringe of the method bar, immediately above your spreadsheet’s first row. You possibly can then drag down on that space to make the method bar as massive as you need.

Seize some information

8. Have to present some dwell information from one spreadsheet inside one other? Copy the complete URL of the sheet with the info and paste it into Sheets’ ImportRange perform, utilizing the next format (with your individual URL, sheet quantity, and cell vary in place):

=IMPORTRANGE ("https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1aBcDEfgHiJKLMnOPQRSTuVWXZ", "Sheet1!D1:D15")

Then simply paste that perform into the sheet the place you need the info to seem. You’ll must hover over the cell and click on a button to permit the 2 sheets to be linked, after which—hocus-pocus! The entire information out of your different sheet will magically seem and stay present every time any modifications are made.

9. Sheets can pull in information from any publicly out there net web page, too, so long as the web page has a correctly formatted desk. The key lies inside the ImportHTML command; use it with no matter URL you want and the quantity indicating which desk on the web page you wish to import (“1” for the primary desk, “2” for the second, and so forth):


And similar to that, the entire data will seem inside your spreadsheet.

Sheets’ ImportHTML command imports dwell information from any public net web page with a desk.

10. The same form of command can allow you to import latest entries from a web site’s RSS feed into any spreadsheet. All you should do is enter the ImportFeed command together with the URL of the feed you need—so, for example, if you happen to needed to see all of my Quick Firm tales in Google Sheets, you could possibly enter:



For those who needed solely the titles of the tales—and needed solely, say, the latest 5 entries—you could possibly add within the following parameters:

=IMPORTFEED("https://fastcompany.com/person/jrraphael/rss","objects title",false,5)

After which if you happen to needed to put the hyperlinks to every story in a separate column alongside that, you could possibly use this:

=IMPORTFEED("https://fastcompany.com/person/jrraphael/rss","objects URL",false,5)

11. Google Sheets has an simply neglected cousin referred to as Google Types that allows you to accumulate information in a survey-style type on the net after which compile the leads to a spreadsheet. You possibly can create a type by in search of the Kind choice inside Sheets’ Insert menu, after which utilizing the location that comes as much as create any set of questions and parameters you need. When your type is prepared, click on the Ship button within the upper-right nook of the web page to electronic mail it to anybody, embed it in an online web page, or get a guide hyperlink for sharing it nonetheless you want. As responses are available, they’ll mechanically seem in your spreadsheet as their very own particular person rows.

Clear it up

12. For those who spot some additional areas earlier than or after information in your spreadsheet (whether or not you’re numbers or textual content), don’t overlook the Google Sheets perform TRIM. You possibly can sort it in for no matter cell you need, (=TRIM(A1), for example) and it’ll take away any main or trailing areas and offer you a cleaner model of the cell’s worth.

If you wish to carry out the perform for a number of cells directly, use this format for no matter vary you want:


13. Taking a look at a lot of information with RanDoM or ImPropeR CaPitaLiZaTion? Sheets can standardize case formatting for you with a couple of easy features: =Higher(A1) will make the entire textual content uppercase for no matter cell you point out; =Decrease(A1) will do the identical with lowercase; and =Correct(A1) will capitalize the primary letter of every phrase for a title-case impact.

14. Possibly you’ve a database of user-submitted electronic mail addresses. Nicely, inform Sheets to look by the addresses and decide in the event that they’re all correctly formatted: Use the perform IsEmail(A1) with no matter cell you want—or if you wish to carry out the perform for a variety of cells, use this format as a substitute:


Sheets provides you with a True or False reply for each electronic mail tackle you feed it.

15. You possibly can validate URLs in a spreadsheet, too, to be sure you don’t have any improper objects in your checklist. Observe the identical process outlined within the earlier tip however use the perform IsURL as a substitute.

Analyze and visualize

16. Carry out quick calculations in any number-oriented spreadsheet by highlighting a bunch of cells after which wanting within the lower-right nook of the display. By default, Sheets will present you the sum of the numbers you’ve chosen. You possibly can then click on the field with that data and inform it to point out the common, the minimal or most, or the whole depend of numbers concerned—and when you make that change, your choice will stick and stay the brand new default for any future calculations you carry out.

17. Create a tiny chart inside a single cell utilizing Sheets’ nifty Sparkline characteristic. Simply sort the command =Sparkline adopted by the cells you wish to embody, the phrase “charttype,” after which the kind of chart you wish to create—reminiscent of line, bar, or column—formatted like this:


The Sparkline characteristic places tiny charts of information into single cells inside your spreadsheets.

For those who actually wish to get wild, you’ll be able to even embody a wide range of customization commands that’ll management the colours utilized in totally different elements of your chart together with different visible elements.

18. Faucet into Google’s synthetic intelligence and let Sheets carry out several types of information evaluation and create advanced charts for you. Hover your mouse over the starburst-shaped icon within the lower-right nook of the display, and also you’ll see the phrase Discover seem. Click on that button, and Sheets will pop up a panel of information associated to your information. You possibly can spotlight particular rows in your spreadsheet to vary its focus, and you may hover over any merchandise it presents to seek out choices for adjusting it or inserting it immediately into your sheet.

(*32*)Sheets’ Discover characteristic makes use of AI to offer you all types of useful charts and data.

19. Sheets has a comparatively new trick that may actually make your pie charts pop. The subsequent time you create a pie chart inside a spreadsheet—by highlighting cells after which clicking the Insert menu adopted by Chart (after which clicking Chart sort to pick out a pie chart choice, if one doesn’t come up by default)—strive clicking twice on one particular piece of the pie chart after which in search of the Distance from heart choice within the management panel on the proper facet of the display. Enhance its worth to 25% or extra to make that section of the chart stand out for emphasis.

Adjusting a pie chart’s “Distance from heart” worth can draw emphasis to at least one particular space of your information.

Format like a professional

20. Sheets means that you can disguise any row. Proper-click its quantity within the grey column on the far left of the display and choose Conceal row from the menu that seems. If you wish to present the row once more, click on the black arrows that appeared instead inside that very same left-of-screen column.

21. Need a fast and simple strategy to make your spreadsheet shine? Search for the Alternating colours choice in Sheets’ Format menu. It’ll offer you a easy set of choices that’ll apply a sharp-looking colour sample to your rows—no thought or effort required.

22. Whilst you’re jazzing up your spreadsheet’s look, take into consideration letting Sheets rotate the textual content in your header row. Spotlight the row, then click on on the icon that reveals an angled “A” with an up-pointing arrow beneath it (on to the left of the link-inserting instrument). You possibly can then choose from a number of eye-catching results that’ll set your header textual content aside and provides your spreadsheet a snazzy, polished look.

Rotating header row textual content and including alternating colours are simple methods to offer your spreadsheet some pizzazz.

23. Sheets can copy a cell’s full set of formatting and apply it to a different cell with a couple of quick clicks. First, click on the cell with the formatting you wish to copy. Then, click on the paint curler icon—on to the correct of the print command, towards the left facet of the toolbar—and click on the cell to which you need the formatting to use. Every little thing from the font measurement and colour to the cell shading and numerical model will carry over.

24. Give your self or your staff a useful guidelines proper inside a spreadsheet: Choose a sequence of clean cells, open the Insert menu, and choose Checkbox. You possibly can then put your to-do objects within the subsequent column over and get the satisfaction of checking objects off as you full them.

25. Add particular characters into any spreadsheet the straightforward method: Use the Char command and keep in mind the numerical values of characters you continuously depend on. As an example, =CHAR(8594) will produce a right-facing arrow, =CHAR(169) provides you with the copyright image, =CHAR(8482) will create the trademark image, and =CHAR(128077) will flip into the thumbs-up emoji. You’ll find a listing of accessible codes on this website; simply you’ll want to seize the numbers solely (with none surrounding punctuation) from the HTML-code area.

Share and collaborate

26. When you’ve shared a spreadsheet—both publicly or with particular individuals—you’ll be able to create a customized hyperlink that’ll let anybody with entry shortly copy your spreadsheet into their very own Google account, the place they’ll use it as a template or modify it nonetheless they need with out affecting your unique model. Simply copy the URL in your browser’s tackle bar when you’re viewing the spreadsheet and substitute the phrase “edit” on the finish with “copy”—leaving you with one thing like this:


When anybody with entry to the spreadsheet opens that hyperlink, they’ll instantly be prompted to make a duplicate with a single click on proper then and there.

Placing the “copy” command right into a spreadsheet’s URL offers anybody a easy method so as to add it into their very own Google account.

27. Sheets makes it simple to export a spreadsheet in a wide range of codecs by way of the Obtain as choice within the File menu, however if you happen to’d quite give individuals a direct hyperlink to obtain your information as a PDF, there’s a hidden command for doing simply that: Copy your spreadsheet’s URL, similar to within the earlier merchandise, however this time, substitute the phrase “edit” on the finish with “export?format=pdf”—leaving you with a hyperlink that appears one thing like:


Individuals with entry to the spreadsheet will immediately be offered with a PDF export as quickly as they open the hyperlink.

28. If you’re sharing a spreadsheet or utilizing a type to just accept survey-like responses, you’ll be able to ask Sheets to notify you every time an edit or addition happens—both instantly or as a once-daily electronic mail digest. Search for the Notification guidelines choice within the Instruments menu to set your preferences for any specific spreadsheet.

Strive a sophisticated characteristic or two

29. With the assistance of an exterior service, Sheets has the aptitude to create QR codes that’ll pull up no matter URLs you need after they’re scanned. Sort your URL right into a cell (with http:// or https:// in entrance of it), then use the next perform with your individual cell quantity instead of “B4”:


The QR code will immediately seem and be out there to repeat, share, or manipulate in any method your coronary heart wishes.

Creating QR codes is certainly one of Google Sheets’ many hidden powers.

30. Right here’s a useful little Sheets perform for monitoring tendencies throughout numerical information: Create a warmth map to focus on highs and lows and make it simple to see issues like gross sales or web-traffic success patterns. Choose no matter vary of information you need, then search for the Conditional formatting choice inside the Format menu. Click on the Coloration scale tab on the prime and assign a colour to each Min worth and Max worth. The impact will work greatest if you happen to use a light-weight model of a colour for the previous and a darkish model of the identical colour for the latter.

A warmth map enhances any set of numerical information that can assist you spot patterns and tendencies.

31. Sheets has the ability of Google Finance (which—who knew?—is still a thing) baked proper in on your stock-knowledge wants. The system is ready to offer you real-time or historic inventory costs together with all types of different market-related information for any publicly traded firm. Merely use the perform GoogleFinance adopted by the data you want, utilizing the variables and codecs described on this page.

32. Ever end up scrolling by a listing of responses in several languages? Sheets can establish any language utilized in a spreadsheet and even translate it into your individual native tongue on the spot. To detect a language, use the next perform (with the suitable cell quantity instead of “A1”):


You may also enter in a phrase instead of a cell quantity, if you need:


Google provides you with a two-letter code telling you the language that was used. To translate, in the meantime, use the next command—with your individual phrase or cell quantity instead of “A1” and the code for no matter language you wish to translate into (if it’s something apart from English, as referenced under):


It simply goes to point out you: Very similar to the language of affection, the language of spreadsheets really is common.

[Editor’s note: This story was updated and expanded in May 2021.]

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