Modifying Columns, Rows, and Cells

In Google Sheets modification of rows, cells, and columns can help personalize your file. Learn how here.

Introduction

By default, the cells of every new spreadsheet are always the same size. Once you begin entering information into your spreadsheet, it's easy to customize rows and columns to better fit your data.

In this lesson, you'll learn how to change the height and width of rows and columns, as well as how to insert, move, delete, and freeze them. You'll also learn how to wrap and merge cells.

Working with columns, rows, and cells

Every row and column of a new spreadsheet is always set to the same height and width. As you begin to work with spreadsheets, you will find that these default sizes are not always well-suited to different types of cell content.

To modify column width:

In our example below, some of the content in column B is too long to be displayed. We can make all of this content visible by changing the width of column B.

  1. Hover the mouse over the line between two columns. The cursor will turn into a double arrow.
    Selecting the column border
  2. Click and drag the column border to the right to increase column width. Dragging the border to the left will decrease column width.
    Increasing the column width
  3. Release the mouse when you are satisfied with the new column width. All of the cell content is now visible.
    The resized column

To autosize a column's width:

The autosizing feature will allow you to set a column's width to fit its content automatically.

  1. Hover the mouse over the line between two columns. The cursor will turn into a double arrow.
  2. Double-click the mouse.
    Doubling clicking to auto-size a column
  3. The column's width will be changed to fit the content.
    The auto-sized column

To modify row height:

You can make cells taller by modifying the row height. Changing the row height will create additional space in a cell, which often makes it easier to view cell content.

  1. Hover the mouse over the line between two rows. The cursor will turn into a double arrow.
    Selecting the row border
  2. Click and drag the row border down to increase the height. Dragging the border up will decrease the row height.
    Moving the row border
  3. Release the mouse when you are satisfied with the new row height.
    The resized row

To modify all rows or columns:

Rather than resizing rows and columns individually, you can modify the height and width of every row and column in a spreadsheet at the same time using the Select All button. This method allows you to set a uniform size for the spreadsheet's rows and columns. In our example, we'll set a uniform row height.

  1. Click the Select All button just below the formula bar to select every cell in the spreadsheet.
    Clicking the Select All button
  2. Hover the mouse over the line between two rows. The cursor will turn into a double arrow.
  3. Click and drag the row border to modify the height.
    Changing the height of all rows
  4. Release the mouse when you are satisfied with the new row height for the spreadsheet.
    The uniform row height

Inserting, deleting, and moving rows and columns

After you've been working with a spreadsheet for a while, you may find that you want to add new columns or rows, delete certain rows or columns, or even move them to a different location in the spreadsheet.

To insert a column:

  1. Right-click a column heading. A drop-down menu will appear. There are two options to add a column. Select Insert 1 left to add a column to the left of the current column, or select Insert 1 right to add a column to the right of the current column.
    Inserting a column
  2. The new column will be inserted into the spreadsheet.
    The newly inserted column

To insert a row:

  1. Right-click a row heading. A drop-down menu will appear. There are two options to add a row. Select Insert 1 above to add a row above the current row, or select Insert 1 below to add a column below the current row.
    Inserting a row
  2. The new row will be inserted into the spreadsheet.
    The newly inserted row

If you need to add more than one row at a time, you can scroll to the bottom of the spreadsheet and click the Add button. By default, this will add 1000 new rows to your spreadsheet, but you can also set the number of rows to add in the text box.

Adding multiple rows

To delete a row or column:

It's easy to delete any row or column you no longer need in your spreadsheet. In our example, we'll delete a row, but you can delete a column in the same way.

  1. Select the row you want to delete.
    Selecting a row to delete
  2. Right-click the row heading, then select Delete row from the drop-down menu.
    Selecting Delete row
  3. The rows below the deleted row will shift up to take its place. In our example, row 8 is now row 7.
    Rows will shift up when another row is deleted

There's a difference between deleting a row or column and simply clearing its contents. If you want to remove the content of a row or column without causing the others to shift, right-click a heading, then select Clear row or Clear column.

Clearing the contents of a row

To move a row or column:

Sometimes you may want to move a column or row to make it more accessible in your spreadsheet. In our example, we'll move a column, but you can move a row in the same way.

  1. Select the column you want to move, then hover the mouse over the column heading. The cursor will become a hand icon.
    Selecting a column to move
  2. Click and drag the column to its desired position. An outline of the column will appear.
    Moving a column
  3. Release the mouse when you are satisfied with the new location.
    The moved column

Wrapping text and merging cells

Whenever you have too much cell content to be displayed in a single cell, you may decide to wrap the text or merge the cell rather than resize a column. Wrapping the text will automatically modify a cell's row height, allowing the cell contents to be displayed on multiple lines. Merging allows you to combine a cell with adjacent empty cells to create one large cell.

To wrap text:

  1. Select the cells you want to wrap. In this example, we're selecting cell range C3:C10.
    Selecting cells to wrap
  2. Open the Text wrapping drop-down menu, then click the Wrap button.
    Clicking the Wrap text button
  3. The cells will be automatically resized to fit their content.
    The wrapped text inside the resized cells

To merge cells:

  1. Select the cells you want to merge. In this example, we're selecting cell range A1:C1.
    Choosing cells to merge
  2. Select the Merge cells button.
    Clicking the Merge cells button
  3. The cells will now be merged into a single cell.
    The merged cells

To unmerge a cell, click the drop-down arrow next to the Merge cells button, then select Unmerge from the drop-down menu.

Unmerging cells

Freezing rows and columns

When working with large spreadsheets, there will be times when you'll want to see certain rows or columns all the time, especially when using header cells as in our example below. By freezing rows or columns in place, you'll be able to scroll through your spreadsheet while continuing to see the header cells.

To freeze a row:

  1. Locate the row or rows you want to freeze. In this example, we'll freeze the top two rows. Note: You do not need to select the rows you want to freeze.
    Deciding which rows to freeze
  2. Click View in the toolbar. Hover the mouse over Freeze, then select the desired number of rows to freeze from the drop-down menu.
    Freezing rows
  3. The top two rows are frozen in place. You can scroll down your worksheet while continuing to view the frozen rows at the top.
    The frozen rows

To freeze a column:

  1. Locate the column or columns you want to freeze. In this example, we'll freeze the leftmost column. Note: You do not need to select the columns you want to freeze.
    Choosing which column to freeze
  2. Click View in the toolbar. Hover the mouse over Freeze, then select the desired number of columns to freeze from the drop-down menu.
    Freezing a column
  3. The leftmost column is now frozen in place. You can scroll across your worksheet while continuing to view the frozen column on the left.
    The frozen column

To unfreeze rows, click View, hover the mouse over Freeze, then select No rows. To unfreeze columns, click View, hover the mouse over Freeze, then select No columns.

Unfreezing a row

Challenge!

  1. Open our example file. Make sure you're signed in to Google, then click File > Make a copy.
  2. Change the row height of all of the rows to be smaller.
  3. Merge cells A1:I1.
  4. Insert a row below row 11 and type your name in the first cell.
  5. Delete row 7. This row contains the name Ben Mathis.
  6. Insert a column between columns G and H and type Total Quantity as the column header.
  7. Select cells A2:J2, change them to wrap text, and center align them.
  8. Freeze the top two rows.
  9. When you're finished, your spreadsheet should look something like this:
    modifying cells challenge example