Google Docs: Spreadsheet basics
Once you know the basics on how to access, create, and edit Google Docs, read here to learn the basics that apply specifically to Google Docs spreadsheets.
From your Docs list, click the Create button and select Spreadsheet.
Tip: Don’t forget to rename your new spreadsheet. To do so, just click the name (which should be “Untitled spreadsheet” at this point).
To enter text or data in your spreadsheet, just click a cell and start typing. By default, data is entered in “Normal” format, which means no special formats are used - what you type is what you get.
Use the menus and toolbar to format the selected cells in your spreadsheet.
You can format your data as currency, percent, dates, times, plain text (where numbers are treated as text instead of numerical values to be interpreted), or other formatting options:
The building blocks of a spreadsheet are rows and columns of cells filled with data. Each grid of rows and columns is an individual sheet.
You can use Copy and Paste (on the Edit or right-click) menu to move cells, but here’s a quicker way:
Your first rows or columns might be headers that you want to always keep at the top or left as you scroll through your spreadsheet. In that case, you’ll want to freeze the first rows and columns so they stay put. You can freeze up to 10 rows and 5 columns.
Just click View > Freeze rows (or View > Freeze columns), and then select the number of rows to freeze.
In the example below, the top 2 rows are frozen. You can tell by the thicker line beneath Row 2:
Tip: You can also drag and drop the blue line sections to quickly change the number of frozen rows or columns.
Once frozen, your headers will stay in place as you move about your spreadsheet, and they won’t be sorted if you sort a column.
You might have multiple spreadsheets for a given project. For example, a travel company planning a tour might create separate spreadsheets for tour dates, customers, transportation, hotels, excursions, and so on.
A convenient way to handle multiple related spreadsheets is to use Google Docs “sheets.” Sheets let you open one Google Spreadsheet and quickly jump back and forth between the related sheets, similar to how you might use tabs in a browser to jump between different web sites.
To add a new sheet:
Functions make calculations easy and automatic. Access functions from the summation sign on the Edit toolbar (alternatively, click Insert > Functions from the menu toolbar). You'll have immediate access to some of the most common formulas like Sum and Average. To learn about these functions, plus all the additional formulas that you can use, click More functions.
To use the data from other cells in your functions, refer to the cells by column number followed by row number (A6, C2, and so on). For example, here’s how to use the SUM function to add the cells directly above it:
Take advantage of the collaborative features of Google Spreadsheets by sharing your spreadsheet with others. Multiple people will be able to edit the same spreadsheet at the same time! To get started sharing a spreadsheet, click the Share button at the top right of the page.
There are a couple differences about collaborating in spreadsheets compared to text documents: only one person can edit a cell at any given time, and comments are stored with individual cells. These differences are described below.
A cell that you’ve selected is outlined in blue, but when someone else is editing your spreadsheet, a cell they've selected has a different color border. If you want to see who has selected a cell, just move your mouse there:
With Google Spreadsheets, you don't have to worry about overriding edits made by someone else. A cell will be greyed out while it’s being modified by someone else:
If you try to edit a greyed out cell, your changes won’t stick.
If you can edit a spreadsheet you can add comments to individual cells: