Google Sheets Beginners' Tutorial

 

This Google Sheets beginners' tutorial is designed to introduce users to the basics of using Google Sheets, a cloud-based spreadsheet program that is part of the Google Docs suite of productivity tools. This tutorial covers the essential features of Google Sheets, including creating and formatting sheets, working with cells and data, using formulas and functions, collaborating with others, and advanced features like pivot tables and data validation.

Objectives:

  • To familiarize users with the Google Sheets interface and basic navigation
  • To teach users how to enter and edit data in cells, as well as insert and delete rows and columns
  • To show users how to format cells and data using built-in options and custom formatting rules
  • To introduce users to the use of formulas and functions in Google Sheets, including common functions and creating custom functions with Google Apps Script
  • To demonstrate how to work with multiple sheets in a single file, including adding, deleting, renaming, and linking sheets
  • To teach users how to share sheets with others and collaborate in real-time using comments and the version history feature
  • To introduce users to advanced features of Google Sheets, including importing and exporting data, using data validation and pivot tables, and creating charts and graphs

What is Google Sheets?

Google Sheets is a spreadsheet program that is part of the Google Docs suite of productivity tools. It allows users to create and edit spreadsheets online while collaborating with other users in real time.

Why is it useful?

Google Sheets is useful for a variety of purposes, including budgeting, data analysis, and project management. It is especially useful for individuals and teams who need to access and edit spreadsheets from multiple locations and devices.

How does it compare to Microsoft Excel?

One of the main differences between Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel is that Google Sheets is a cloud-based application, while Excel is a desktop application. This means that with Google Sheets, users can access and edit their spreadsheets from any device with an internet connection, while Excel requires the user to be on the same device on which the file was created. Additionally, Google Sheets offers more collaboration features, such as the ability to leave comments and see other users' changes in real time.

However, Microsoft Excel does have some features that Google Sheets does not, such as more advanced formatting options and the ability to create more complex formulas. It is worth considering which tool is the best fit for your needs based on the specific features and capabilities that you require.

Getting Started with Google Sheets

Creating a new sheet

To create a new sheet in Google Sheets, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Google Drive website (drive.google.com) and log in using your Google account.
  2. Click the "+" button in the top left corner of the page.
  3. From the dropdown menu, select "Google Sheets."
  4. A new sheet will be created and opened in a new tab.
  5. Navigating the user interface

Google Sheets has a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to navigate and use the various features of the program. The main elements of the user interface include:

  1. The top menu bar contains options for formatting, inserting, and collaborating on the sheet.
  2. The toolbars contain buttons for common actions such as bolding text, changing the font size, and aligning cells.
  3. The sheet tabs, allow you to switch between different sheets within the same file.
  4. The formula bar displays the content of the currently selected cell and allows you to enter or edit data or formulas.

Customizing the sheet settings

There are several settings that you can customize in Google Sheets to personalize your experience and make the program more efficient for your needs. Some examples of settings that you can customize include:

  • The default font and font size.
  • The default number format.
  • The default cell background color.
  • The gridlines and row/column headings display.
  • The auto-save frequency.

To access and customize these settings, click the "File" menu and select "Spreadsheet Settings." From here, you can adjust the various options to your liking.

Working with Cells and Rows

Entering and editing data in cells

To enter or edit data in a cell in Google Sheets, follow these steps:

  • Click on the cell in which you want to enter or edit data.
  • Type the data into the formula bar at the top of the sheet.
  • Press "Enter" or click on a different cell to save your changes.
  • You can also use the mouse or keyboard to navigate between cells and make edits.

Inserting and deleting rows and columns

To insert a new row or column in Google Sheets, follow these steps:

  • Right-click on the row or column number to the left or top of where you want to insert the new row or column.
  • From the context menu that appears, select "Insert 1 above" (for rows) or "Insert 1 left" (for columns).

To delete a row or column, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the row or column number.
  2. From the context menu that appears, select "Delete row" (for rows) or "Delete column" (for columns).
  3. Adjusting cell size and alignment

You can adjust the size of cells in Google Sheets by hovering the mouse over the border of the cell, clicking and holding, and then dragging the border to the desired size.

You can also adjust the alignment of cell content within the cell. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Select the cells that you want to adjust.
  • Click the "Format" menu and select "Align."
  • From the dropdown menu, choose the desired alignment option (left, center, right, top, middle, or bottom).

You can also use the alignment buttons in the toolbar to quickly align cell content.

Formatting Cells and Data

Changing Font and Cell Color

One way to add some visual interest to your Google Sheets is by changing the font and cell color. You can do this by highlighting the cells you want to format and then clicking on the "Format" dropdown menu in the top toolbar. From there, you can choose the "Text color" or "Fill color" options to change the font or cell color, respectively. You can also use the shortcut keys "Ctrl + Shift + F" and "Ctrl + Shift + B" to quickly access the text and cell color options.

Using Cell Formatting Options

In addition to changing the font and cell color, you can also use the formatting options to make your text bold, italic, or underlined. To do this, simply highlight the cells you want to format and click on the "B," "I," or "U" buttons in the top toolbar. You can also use the shortcut keys "Ctrl + B," "Ctrl + I," and "Ctrl + U" to apply these formatting options.

Using Built-In Number Formatting Options

Sometimes you may want to format your numerical data in a specific way, such as displaying a currency symbol or expressing a number as a percentage. Google Sheets has several built-in number formatting options that you can use for this purpose. To access these options, highlight the cells you want to format and click on the "Format" dropdown menu in the top toolbar. From there, you can choose the "Number" option and then select the desired formatting option from the submenu.

Creating Custom Number Formats

In addition to the built-in number formatting options, you can also create custom number formats in Google Sheets. To do this, click on the "Format" dropdown menu in the top toolbar and select the "Number" option. From the submenu, choose the "More Formats" option and then click on the "Custom number format" option. This will bring up the "Format cells" dialogue box, where you can enter your own formatting codes to create a custom number format. You can use symbols, such as the dollar sign or percentage symbol, and placeholders, such as 0 or #, to specify how you want your numbers to be displayed.

Using Formulas and Functions

Understanding the Basics of Formulas and Functions

Formulas and functions are powerful tools in Google Sheets that allow you to perform calculations on your data. A formula is a set of instructions that tells Google Sheets what calculations to perform, and a function is a pre-defined formula that performs a specific task. To create a formula, you simply type an equal sign (=) followed by the instructions for the calculation. For example, to add the values in cells A1 and B1, you would enter the formula "=A1+B1." You can then use this formula in other cells by referencing the cell that contains the formula.

Using Common Functions

Google Sheets has a wide range of built-in functions that you can use to perform various tasks. Some common functions include SUM, which adds up a range of cells; AVERAGE, which calculates the average of a range of cells; and MAX, which returns the highest value in a range of cells. To use a function, you simply type the function name, followed by the range of cells in parentheses. For example, to find the sum of the values in cells A1 to A5, you would enter the formula "=SUM(A1:A5)."

Creating Custom Functions with Google Apps Script

In addition to the built-in functions, you can also create your own custom functions in Google Sheets using Google Apps Script. Google Apps Script is a programming language that allows you to write scripts that can automate tasks in Google Sheets and other Google apps. To create a custom function with Google Apps Script, you will need to open the Script Editor (found under the "Tools" menu) and write your function using the Google Apps Script syntax. Once you have written your function, you can test it and use it just like any other function in Google Sheets.

Working with Multiple Sheets

Adding and deleting sheets

To add a new sheet to your Google Sheets document, click on the "+" icon next to the last sheet tab at the bottom of the window. This will create a new sheet with the default name "Sheet2," which you can rename by double-clicking on the sheet tab and typing in a new name.

You can also add a sheet by going to the "Insert" menu and selecting "Sheet." From here, you can choose to insert a sheet either before or after the currently selected sheet.

To delete a sheet, right-click on the sheet tab and select "Delete" from the context menu. You can also delete a sheet by going to the "Data" menu and selecting "Delete sheet." Please note that you cannot undo the deletion of a sheet, so be sure to double-check before you delete it.

Renaming sheets

To rename a sheet, simply double-click on the sheet tab and type in a new name. The sheet's name will update immediately.

Navigating between sheets

To switch between sheets in your Google Sheets document, simply click on the desired sheet tab at the bottom of the window. You can also use the keyboard shortcut "Ctrl + Page Up" or "Ctrl + Page Down" to switch between sheets.

Linking data between sheets

To link data between sheets, you can use the "=''" formula and specify the sheet and cell that you want to reference. For example, if you want to reference cell A1 on a sheet called "Sheet2," you would use the formula "='Sheet2'!A1". This will display the contents of cell A1 on Sheet2 in the current sheet.

You can also use the "ImportRange" function to import a range of cells from another sheet. For example, to import a range of cells from A1 to B2 on Sheet2, you would use the formula "=ImportRange("'Sheet2'!A1:B2")". Please note that the user must grant you permission to access the other sheet if it is not in the same document.

Collaborating with Others

Sharing sheets with others

To share a Google Sheets document with others, click on the "Share" button in the top right corner of the window. This will bring up the "Share with others" dialog, where you can enter the email addresses of the people you want to share the sheet with.

You can also set the permissions for each person you are sharing the sheet with. The options are "Can edit," "Can comment," and "Can view." Choose the option that best fits the level of access you want each person to have.

Once you have added the email addresses and set the permissions, click "Send." The people you have shared the sheet with will receive an email notification with a link to the sheet.

Adding comments and collaborating in real-time

To add a comment to a cell in Google Sheets, right-click on the cell and select "Add comment" from the context menu. A comment box will appear next to the cell, and you can type your comment into the box.

You can also collaborate with others in real time by clicking on the "Edit" button in the top right corner of the window. This will enable real-time collaboration, allowing multiple people to edit the sheet at the same time. You will see the changes made by others as they happen, and any conflicts will be highlighted in red.

Resolving conflicts and version history

If there are conflicts in the sheet when multiple people are editing at the same time, Google Sheets will highlight the conflicting cells in red. To resolve the conflict, click on the cell and choose the value that you want to keep.

Google Sheets also keeps a version history of the sheet, so you can see all of the changes that have been made over time. To view the version history, go to the "File" menu and select "Version history." From here, you can view and compare previous versions of the sheet, as well as restore a previous version if needed.

Advanced Features

Importing and exporting data

Google Sheets allows you to import data from a variety of sources, including other spreadsheets, CSV files, and even websites. To import data, go to the "File" menu and select "Import." From here, you can choose the source of the data and follow the prompts to import the data into your sheet.

You can also export data from Google Sheets to a variety of formats, including CSV, Excel, and PDF. To export data, go to the "File" menu and select "Download." From here, you can choose the desired export format and save the file to your computer.

Using data validation to create dropdown lists

Data validation is a feature in Google Sheets that allows you to set rules for what data can be entered into a cell. One way to use data validation is to create a dropdown list of options for the user to choose from.

To create a dropdown list, select the cells that you want to apply the list to, go to the "Data" menu, and select "Data validation." In the "Criteria" section, choose "List of items" and enter the options for the list, separated by commas.

Using pivot tables to summarize data

Pivot tables are a powerful tool in Google Sheets that allow you to summarize and analyze large amounts of data. A pivot table creates a new table from your existing data, and you can drag and drop different fields to quickly see the calculations and summaries that you want.

To create a pivot table, select the data that you want to include in the table and go to the "Data" menu. Select "Pivot table" and a new sheet will be created with the pivot table. From here, you can drag and drop fields to the "Rows," "Columns," and "Values" areas to create the summary that you want.

Creating charts and graphs to visualize data

Google Sheets allows you to create a variety of charts and graphs to visualize your data. To create a chart, select the data that you want to include in the chart and go to the "Insert" menu. Select the desired chart type and a new chart will be created on the sheet. You can then customize the appearance and layout of the chart to suit your needs.

In Conclusion

Google Sheets is a powerful and flexible tool for organizing, analyzing, and sharing data. Its cloud-based nature allows for easy collaboration and real-time editing, making it a valuable tool for individuals and teams in a variety of settings. Whether used for personal budgeting, business reporting, or academic research, Google Sheets provides a range of features and options for manipulating and presenting data in meaningful ways. This tutorial aims to provide a foundational understanding of Google Sheets, allowing users to take full advantage of its capabilities and streamline their workflow.

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