Master the Basics of Google Sheets: The Ultimate Guide

Google Sheets is one of the most powerful spreadsheets that allows you to store large sets of data and perform complex calculations on them. It uses functions and formulas to perform these calculations on the data stored in the cells.

This makes many jobs easier because you don’t have to do any calculations manually. In short, it can save you a lot of time and effort if done correctly. But, it is a complicated program to start with. Read on to master the basics of this sometimes daunting program.


Why use this guide

Most beginners aren’t fully familiar with the features of Google Sheets or where to start. This guide explains how to set up a perfect work environment, use functions and formulas, and create charts in Google Sheets.

If you are a beginner, this guide will be an ideal starting point. But, if you are a bit more experienced, you can start looking for other more complex and useful Google Sheets formulas.

Set up the perfect work environment in Google Sheets

For many users, the default cell size of a spreadsheet may be too small or too large to properly contain the data. It’s best to change the appearance beforehand so that your data is visually appealing and easy to read. Here are some actions you can take to change the look of your spreadsheet.


Changing the size of a row or column in Google Sheets

There are two ways to adjust the size of a column or row in Google Sheets.

Method 1: To adjust the size of rows or columns on the fly, you just need to:

  1. Hover your cursor over the edge of the column or row header, indicated by a gray separator line. Hovering over a dividing line will change the cursor shape to a line with arrows on both sides.
  2. Click and drag your cursor left, right, up, or down, depending on whether you’re resizing a column or a row.

Method 2: This allows you to resize one or more rows or columns. Follow these steps to do so:

  1. Click the row or column header to select it. Use Shift + left click to select multiple columns or rows.
  2. Right-click to open a drop-down menu.
  3. Click on the Resize option. The option may look different depending on row or column resizing. Clicking on it will open a small window allowing you to adjust your settings.
  4. Type the size you want in the text box.
  5. Click on OKAY to save your changes.


Spreadsheet management

Having multiple tabs in a spreadsheet is an easy way to divide them based on your data. This helps keep your sheet organized and prevents slowdown when you open a sheet with many formulas running at the same time.

To add a spreadsheet, simply click on the Plus (+) icon in the lower left part of the screen. This will create another tab in the same worksheet. Think of it as pages in a book.

Working with two or more tabs in a worksheet can be confusing when you don’t know which worksheet tab contains which data. A solution to this problem is to rename the tabs.

To do this:

  1. Right-click on the tab whose name you want to change. A drop-down menu will appear.
  2. Click on Rename and type the tab name.
  3. Hurry Walk in to save changes.

To delete a worksheet tab, right-click the desired tab and choose Delete from the drop-down menu. Google Sheets will ask you for confirmation. Click on OKAYand this will remove the tab.

Use functions in your spreadsheet

If you are new to Google Sheets, functions are some of the essential things you should aim to learn as they are powerful, pre-built formulas that allow you to perform calculations in your spreadsheet. There are three ways to enter a function into your spreadsheet.

Method 1: Select the cell where you want to input the function in the first method. Then click on the effect text bar and type the function there.

Method 2: Enter the function directly into the cell.

Method 3: Follow the steps below to use a function via Insert menu:

  1. Click on Insert in the top bar.
  2. Select Function in the drop-down menu.
  3. Click on All then find the desired function in the list.
  4. Click the desired function to add it to the cell.

Understand the syntax

Each formula follows a specific syntax, and deviating from it may prevent the formula from working at all. While many functions work with a different syntax, many use a similar calculation line. Here is the syntax for most formulas in Google Sheets:

=FUNCTION(argument_1, argument_2,...)
  • Function is the name of the function and tells Google Sheets what calculation you want to perform.
  • arguments are the parameters that the function uses to return a result.

Operators in Google Sheets

Formulas can use several different operators in the arguments. These include:

  • Arithmetic operators: These are used to perform mathematical calculations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
  • Comparison operators: These operators are used to compare values ​​and return logical expressions such as TRUE or FALSE.
  • Concatenation operators: These operators are used to connect multiple strings into one. Google Sheets also has a CONCATENATE function.
  • Reference operators: These operators are used to create Google Sheets formulas. These can also be used to display and connect data ranges.

Insert charts into your spreadsheet

Simply entering your data is not enough when working with people who want a quick view of results. Large spreadsheets can be tedious to analyze. So you can use Google Sheet’s handy graph feature to make the data more readable.

Here are the steps to create a chart in Sheets:

  1. Select the cells containing the data you want to add to the chart. This will be indicated with a blue outline around the cells.
  2. Click on Insert in the top bar.
  3. From the drop-down menu, select Chart.
  4. A sidebar will appear on the right side of the screen.
  5. Check the box under Chart type and select the chart you want to create.
  6. Once done, feel free to close the sidebar using the cross symbol (X).

You can customize the color, font, style, background and other features by accessing the Personalize tab in the Chart editor.

Keep Learning Google Sheets

Now that you’ve mastered the basics, you can start creating spreadsheets. But it takes years to become a true Google Sheets pro. Keep practicing and that time will pass quickly as you master this powerful program.

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