How to Use Google Spreadsheets

by Jennifer Claerr

Google Spreadsheets is a slick and useful application. It's best to use these spreadsheets for documents which you would like to access from multiple computers, or that you would like to share with others.

Create a Google account. Enter your email address and create a password in the provided fields. Navigate to Google Docs. Select "New > Spreadsheet."

Enter your data into the respective fields. If you have spreadsheets already on your computer, import them by clicking "File > Import." You may import .xls, .csv, .ods and .txt files only. After the file has imported, click "Open Now."

Adjust the size of the cells by moving the lines in the blue shaded areas at the top and to the left of the spreadsheet cells. For example, you may widen the A cell by clicking and dragging the line directly to the right of the letter A. Give the 1 cell more height by clicking and dragging the line below the 1 downward or make it shorter by dragging it upward.

Adjust the appearance of your spreadsheet. Select the cells you would like to change. Alter the font by clicking the F symbol in the toolbar. Click the B, I or U symbols to make your text bold, italic or underlined. Alter the size of your font by clicking the double-T symbol and change the color of the font by clicking the T symbol with the box containing four colors. The next box containing four colors changes the background color of the selected cell. You may select or deselect wrap text depending on your preference. Choosing to unwrap your text may be best for data which is lengthy yet unimportant for your spreadsheet. The small box icon with dotted lines creates borders around selected cells in your spreadsheet.

Change the format of the cells. For example, if your spreadsheet is a bank statement or other financial document, click on "Format > Currency." If you have United States listed as your location, the dollar currency selection shows up automatically. To use other currencies, click the "More Currencies" link. You also may change the format of your spreadsheet cells to a percentage amount, a date, a time or some other format.

Organize your cell data. If your cell data is composed of text, Google Spreadsheets will quickly alphabetize it for you. Click the "Sort" link within the 3D bar along the top of the spreadsheet. Click on the "Sort Tab" for more options. You may freeze header rows or columns to prevent them from being included in the sort.

Insert formulas under the formula tab. Select the cell directly underneath or to the right of your data, then select the desired formula. If the formula you want is not on the toolbar, then click "more>>." Once you have selected the proper formula for your calculation, click the first cell in the list of data you wish to calculate. Then click the last cell. Put a parenthesis at the end of the formula and hit "Enter." Your answer will be automatically calculated by the computer.

If you run into any problems, simply click the Revisions tab. This will show any changes you have recently made to your spreadsheet.

Access your spreadsheets from multiple computers or share them with other people. Take your pick of the Discuss, Share or Publish tabs. Don't worry about losing your work in Google Spreadsheets; all documents are automatically saved.


  • check Only numbers can be used with formulas and most format commands. Only text can be sorted.
  • check If one spreadsheet file format fails to load, try another simpler format, such as .csv.


  • close Don't record personal identification information, such as account numbers, usernames and passwords, on Google Spreadsheets.

About the Author

Jennifer Claerr is a web writer who has written for online sites such as Demand Studios,, and She has a degree in art from the University of Texas at Arlington. She writes on a variety of topics, including holidays, health and fitness, travel, computers and art.

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