A Quick Guide to Google Sheets for Beginners

google sheets for beginners

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Over 2 billion people use Google Sheets daily — and for good reason. Knowing how to make spreadsheets properly with this handy platform can turn you from a disorganized mess into a beautiful work of art. 

But although it’s an incredibly powerful tool, it can be a bit daunting knowing where to start. 

But never fear — in this article, we’ll teach you all about Google Sheets for beginners along with some basic tips and steps to get started.

Keep reading to learn more. 

What Is Google Sheets?

Google Sheets is a free online application where users can create and modify spreadsheets and share them with people in real-time. 

It has all of the normal spreadsheet features, like adding, deleting, and sorting columns and rows. Although it functions like most other spreadsheet tools it has several functions that make it the top choice for users around the world:

  • It’s cloud-based, so you can use it anywhere — so no need to worry about forgetting your stuff at home
  • It works from any device
  • It’s totally free
  • You can customize it by downloading add-ons or writing custom code

This is one of many free Google products that works right in your browser.

How to Get Started With Google Sheets For Beginners

The best way to learn Google Sheets is just to open up a new project and dive right in! 

Before we jump into some basic commands and features, let’s take a look at some easy terms that we’ll use when making your spreadsheets:

  • Cell — a single “box” or data point in your spreadsheet
  • Column — a vertical set of cells
  • Row — a horizontal set of cells
  • Range — any collection of cells that you choose across a column or row
  • Function — an operation that you can program into your app that can calculate different things
  • Formula — a combination of functions across cells that operates to get a final result

Now that you know the basic terms, let’s dive in.

Step 1: Create a Spreadsheet and Add Data

What everyone loves about these online Google products is that they’re free and work on just about any device. Just open up a web browser (or the Google Sheets app if you’re on a smaller device) and use a free Google account.

To create a new spreadsheet in Google Sheets, just hit the red “new” button on your Google Drive dashboard. 

You’ll see a brand new spreadsheet with no data. So next, let’s add data!

Step 2: Add Data

If you take a look at the grid, you’ll notice that there’s a blue outline around whatever cells you’ve selected. If you just begin typing, you’ll see that it will show up in the first cell.

You can play around with this. Just hit any cell and start typing in any data.

You can start adding in data and press enter to move to the next row. You can also use your arrow keys to move around to different cells. 

If you don’t want to type every single data point manually, you can also copy and paste any list of text or numbers right into your spreadsheet. You can even import existing spreadsheets that are in csv, xls, or xlsx formats.

Start playing around with these functions. If you copy and paste and your data comes out with weird formatting, we’ll fix it in the next section.

Step 3: Format Your Data

No matter what kind of data you’re entering into your spreadsheet, you’ll want to format it so it’s easy and beautiful to view.

You’ll see all of the basic formatting options right above the first cell. The options are endless, but we’ll go over a few useful formatting tips, to begin with.

Freeze the top row. This will allow the first row to always be visible, no matter where you scroll down. This is great for big lists. You can do this by clicking View > Freeze > 1 Row in the navigation bar.

Make the header text pop. Drag your pointer across the top row of cells, then bold the text and increase the font size to 12. Now you’ve got a beautiful header!

Format as $. If any of the cells need to be displayed as money, you can use this function. Just drag across the cells and click Format as $. now it will be displayed as a dollar amount.

Step 4: Share, Protect, and Move Your Data

The best part of Sheets is that you can easily share them with anyone and instantly be “in sync” with them. 

To do this, just click File > Share or click the blue Share button on the top right of your screen. Next, click Advanced, then enter the emails of anyone you want to share with.

You can change the privacy settings to change what those new guests can do to your spreadsheet. For example, you can just allow them to view your spreadsheet, leave comments on it, or even edit it.

Another great function is that you can use it from any device that has a browser or the Google Office application.

Don’t have an online connection? No problem. You can even access your spreadsheet in “Offline Mode.” This allows you to make changes to your document that automatically syncs your changes once you find an internet connection again. 

This feature is great for situations with no internet, like on a flight, during a road trip, or when you’re working remotely.

Start Making Beautiful Spreadsheets

That’s a good start for Google Sheets for beginners. Although there is an endless amount of customization that you can learn for Google Sheets, you now have the tools you need to make a basic spreadsheet and share it with your friends, family, and co-workers.

If you need beginner’s help with other types of software, check out our other articles at Noobie.com!