Tips for Using Google Sheets

Get started using Google Sheets effectively with the tips in this article. 

Video Tutorial: Tips for Using Google Sheets

Change the font

Click in the upper left hand corner to select all cells. Then you can select your favorite font, size, and even color that will apply to the whole spreadsheet.

Add your headers

In the top row, start typing your headers. If your header does not fit in the default width of the column, simply double click on the right border to match it. If you want to make it smaller to fit, double click on the left border. You can also select all the fields and drag to make them equal widths. 

Free headers

Go to view, freeze, and select 1 row. This will freeze your top row of headers. You can also view, freeze a column if you want to freeze a column like the date.

Customize headers

Create your own headers in Powerpoint and adjust the gradient and font. Screenshot and save the headers as images (PNG). When you click in your header cell, you can insert the words as images in your spreadsheet. 

Insert Student Name

For something like a Reading tracker, you may want to include a student name or title. 

To do so, click on row one and insert row above.

Drag across the cells, merge cells to put cells into one. Type student name or insert the image of their name. 

Format Cells

The next step is to format the cells depending on their purpose. 


Click the top of the column. Choose format/number/date to keep the date number the same.


If you are keeping data like accuracy or grades, you can Choose format/number/percentage.

Drop down menu

Select the cells you want to have the drop down menu. Go to Data/Data Validation. A range of cells is already selected. Choose the “List of Items” then type what you want the items in the drop down menu to be (i.e. 1,2,3,4).


Go to insert checkbox. You can hover over the cell then drag to copy for the entire column until you stop your cursor.

If you want Google Sheets to calculate how many boxes you have checked, highlight them, then go to Data/Data Validation and choose use custom cell values. Then choose your values. For example, count the value as 1 if it’s checked, 0 if it is not.

Alternating Colors

Select the cells you want the alternating colors on. Go to Format/Alternating Colors. Uncheck the header then customize your colors. Light colors are easier on the eyes.


Select the cells and then click on the border icon on the tool bar. Choose the kind of border you want. The dotted border looks great! You may want to make your header with a darker border, for example. 

Conditional Formatting

To flag your cells with a certain color to alert to low grades or percentages, for example, you can use conditional formatting. 

Select the column. Go to Format/Conditional Formatting and make some rules. Go to format rules. For example, you can choose less than an equal to a certain percentage show up red. You can choose multiple rules and colors. You set the rules. Type in a number in the cell to test it.

To collect student data, nothing works better than Google Sheets! 

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