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Google Sheets Tips

How to Color Cells in Google Sheets

In this article you'll learn ow to color cells in Google Sheets to highlight key numbers, get viewers' attention, or differentiate some cells from others (e.g., ones containing different formulas).

Why do you change cell color in Google Sheets?

Here are some common reasons why someone might want to change cell colors in Google Sheets:

  • Highlighting important information: Changing cell colors can draw attention to important data or key performance indicators. For example, you can make cells with low sales figures red to indicate that they require immediate attention.

  • Organizing data: Color-coding cells based on specific categories or criteria can help you to better organize and analyze your data. For instance, you can use different colors for different product lines or sales regions.

  • Improving visual appeal: Sometimes, changing cell colors is simply a matter of making the spreadsheet more visually appealing. By using colors strategically, you can make the data more engaging and easier to read.

How do I fill a cell with color in Google Sheets?

In Google Sheets, you can quickly fill cells with colors. Let’s see how to do it!

  • Select a cell or a range of cells you want to color.

  • Find and click the “Fill color” icon in the toolbar.

  • Choose the color you want to use in the existing set.

Google Sheets
How to color cells in Google Sheets

Can’t you find a color you want to apply in the list of the existing colors?

No worries! You can find your favorite color by following the steps below.

  • Click “CUSTOM” or the plus mark beneath “CUSTOM” in the screenshot above, which brings up a pop-up.

  • In the pop-up, adjust the “HUE” to the point you can see the color you are looking for, and then click the point in the picture with a gradation from black (bottom left) to a certain color you picked up in “HUE” (top right).

  • Or, if you are looking for a specific color and you know the color’s Hex color code, you can directly input the color code in the text box at the top of the pop-up.

  • Once you choose a color, click the “OK” button at the bottom of the pop-up.

How to Color Cells
How to color cells in Google Sheets

We recommend that:

(i) you don’t use too many colors in a Sheet;

(ii) you make usage of colored cells consistent in a Google Sheet file;

(iii) you fill in relevant cells with similar colors (e.g., filling a row showing with color and rows below the row showing sub-segments with similar (but lighter) color

Enjoy coloring cells and making your Google Sheets more viewer-friendly!

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How do I change the color of a cell in Google Sheets based on the value of another cell?

You can utilize the “Conditional formatting” function. 

  • Select a cell whose color you want to change

  • Go to the “Format” tab and click “Conditional formatting”

  • You can see a pop-up menu on the right side as shown below

  • Choose “Custom formula is” from a pull-down menu named “Format cells if”

  • Input the formula you would like to apply in a box and click “Done”

Here is an example of how to change the color of a cell based on a value of another cell.

Let’s assume we want to change the color of the cell D5 based on a value in cell B5.

  • Determine what conditions you would like to incorporate

  • Let’s assume we want to color the cell D5 in red if it is less than 15 and color it in light green if it is equal to or greater than 15

  • Input 15 in cell D2 as a reference point in a formula

  • In this case, you need to incorporate two formulas shown in the picture

How to Colo
How to color cells in Google Sheets

How do I shade in Google Sheets?

You can fill cells, rows, or columns with light gray color as you have learned on this page.

However, if you want to shade every other row by alternating two colors (e.g., white and light gray), there is a better way to go - “Alternating colors” function.

  • Select a range you want to apply a pattern.

  • Go to the “Format” tab and click “Alternating colors”.

  • You can see a pop-up on the right side.

  • You can pick up a pattern you like out of default patterns, or customize your own design.

  • You can also determine if you apply the chosen pattern to “Header” and “Footer”.

Google Sheets
How to color cells in Google Sheets

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