How to Alternate Colors in Google Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide


When it comes to organizing and analyzing data in Google Sheets, alternating colors can play a crucial role in enhancing data visualization and improving readability. Whether you're dealing with a lengthy spreadsheet, a complex data table, or simply want to make your data more visually appealing, using alternating colors can make a significant difference. In this step-by-step guide, we will explore how to easily incorporate alternating colors into your Google Sheets, helping you present data in a way that is both informative and aesthetically pleasing.

Key Takeaways

  • Using alternating colors in Google Sheets can enhance data visualization and improve readability.
  • By incorporating alternating colors, you can make your data more visually appealing.
  • Follow the step-by-step guide to easily add alternating colors to your Google Sheets.
  • Customize the color scheme and formatting options to best suit your data.
  • Data visualization and readability are crucial for effective data analysis.

Setting up the Spreadsheet

Before you start alternating colors in Google Sheets, you need to set up the spreadsheet and make sure your data is organized and ready for formatting. Follow these steps to get started:

Step 1: Open Google Sheets and create a new spreadsheet

To begin, open Google Sheets by going to and logging into your Google account. Once you're logged in, click on the "Blank" option or select a template that suits your needs.

Step 2: Enter your data into the first column or row, depending on your preference

Decide whether you want to enter your data into the first column or the first row of your spreadsheet. The choice depends on how you want to structure your data. For example, if you are creating a list of products, you might prefer to enter the names of the products in the first column. If you are creating a financial report, you might choose to enter the categories in the first row.

Step 3: Make sure the data is organized and ready for formatting

Before you can start applying alternating colors to your spreadsheet, it's important to ensure that your data is organized and ready for formatting. Here are a few tips:

  • Remove any unnecessary rows, columns, or cells that don't contain relevant data.
  • Ensure that your data is logically organized. For example, if you're creating a sales report, make sure the dates are in chronological order.
  • Double-check for any errors or inconsistencies in your data. Correct any mistakes to ensure accurate formatting.

By setting up your spreadsheet properly and organizing your data, you'll be ready to apply alternating colors to enhance its readability and visual appeal.

Selecting the range

Before you can start applying alternating colors in Google Sheets, it is important to select the range of cells where you want to apply this formatting. This step is crucial as it determines which cells will be affected by the alternating colors.

Click and drag to select the range of cells you want to apply alternating colors to

To select a range of cells in Google Sheets, simply click on the first cell in the range and drag the cursor to the last cell. As you drag, a highlighted rectangle will show the selected range, indicating the cells that will be affected by the formatting change.

For example, if you want to apply alternating colors to a column of data, click on the top cell in that column and drag the cursor down to the last cell in the column.

Consider the purpose of your data and choose the appropriate range for highlighting

When selecting the range of cells, it is essential to consider the purpose of your data and choose the appropriate range for highlighting. Think about what you want to emphasize or draw attention to within your dataset.

For instance, if you have a table showing sales data for different products, you may want to highlight the total sales column to make it stand out. In this case, you would select the range that includes all the cells in that column.

On the other hand, if you want to highlight specific rows or columns based on certain criteria, such as highlighting all the rows with negative values or specific product categories, you should select the appropriate range that meets these criteria.

Choosing the right range is crucial to ensure that the alternating colors effectively serve their purpose and enhance the readability and visual appeal of your data.

Applying conditional formatting

In Google Sheets, conditional formatting allows you to apply different formatting styles to cells based on specific criteria. This feature is particularly useful when you want to alternate colors in your spreadsheet and make it visually appealing. Here's how you can use conditional formatting to achieve that:

Step 1: Go to the "Format" menu and select "Conditional formatting"

To start applying conditional formatting in Google Sheets, you need to access the "Format" menu. Simply click on the "Format" tab located at the top of your spreadsheet, and then select "Conditional formatting" from the dropdown menu that appears. This will open the conditional formatting options for you to customize.

Step 2: Choose the "Color scale" option from the dropdown menu

After selecting the "Conditional formatting" option, a sidebar will appear on the right side of your screen with various formatting options. From this sidebar, you'll see a dropdown menu labeled "Format cells if...". Click on this dropdown menu and choose the "Color scale" option. This will allow you to specify the color scheme you want to apply to your data.

Step 3: Customize the color scheme by selecting the desired colors for the minimum, midpoint, and maximum values

Once you've selected the "Color scale" option, you can customize the color scheme according to your preference. Under the "Minpoint", "Midpoint", and "Maxpoint" sections, you'll find color swatches that you can click on to choose different colors. The "Minpoint" color represents the lowest value in your data, the "Midpoint" color represents the average or midpoint value, and the "Maxpoint" color represents the highest value. By selecting different colors for each section, you can create a visually appealing alternating color effect in your spreadsheet.

After customizing the color scheme, you can click on the "Done" button to apply the conditional formatting. The colors will be automatically applied to the cells based on the specified criteria, making it easier to identify patterns and trends in your data.

Adjusting formatting options

When creating alternate colors in Google Sheets, you can further customize the formatting by adjusting the options within the conditional formatting rules. Here is a step-by-step guide:

Fine-tune the conditional formatting rules by clicking on the "Format cells if" dropdown

  • Select the desired range of cells that you want to apply the alternating colors to.
  • Click on the "Format" tab in the toolbar at the top of the screen.
  • Choose "Conditional formatting" from the dropdown menu.
  • A sidebar will appear on the right-hand side of the screen.
  • Locate the "Format cells if" dropdown and click on it to expand the options.

Select the desired criteria for highlighting cells, such as specific text, numeric values, or date ranges

  • Within the "Format cells if" dropdown, you will find various criteria options to choose from.
  • For example, you can select "Text contains" if you want to highlight cells that contain a specific word or phrase.
  • If you prefer highlighting cells based on numerical values, you can choose options like "Greater than" or "Less than."
  • Alternatively, you can select "Date is" or "Date is before" to highlight cells within a specific date range.
  • Explore the available criteria and select the one that best fits your needs.

Modify any other formatting options, such as applying bold or italic styles to the alternating colors

  • After selecting the criteria, you may want to modify additional formatting options.
  • For example, you can click on the "Formatting style" dropdown to choose a pre-defined style or customize your own.
  • If you want to apply bold or italic styles to the alternating colors, you can select the appropriate checkboxes.
  • Feel free to experiment with other formatting options, such as font color, background color, and borders, to further enhance the visual appeal of your spreadsheet.

By adjusting these formatting options, you can refine the appearance of your alternate colors in Google Sheets and tailor them to your specific preferences and requirements.

Preview and Refine

Once you have set up alternating colors in your Google Sheets, it's important to preview and refine the appearance to ensure it meets your requirements. Here are a few steps to help you in this process:

Review the Appearance of the Alternating Colors in Your Selected Range

After applying the alternating colors formatting to your selected range, take a moment to review how it looks. Ensure the colors you chose are visually appealing and do not hinder data readability. It's important to strike a balance between aesthetics and functionality.

Make Any Necessary Adjustments to the Formatting Options, Colors, or Range Selection

If you are not satisfied with the appearance of the alternating colors, don't worry! Google Sheets allows you to make adjustments easily. Consider tweaking the formatting options such as changing the background color, text color, or adding borders to enhance the overall visual impact.

Additionally, if you realize the range you initially selected is not suitable for the alternating colors, you can modify it by selecting a different range that better represents the data you want to highlight.

Experiment with Different Formatting Styles to Find the Best Fit for Your Data

Google Sheets offers various formatting styles to choose from, allowing you to experiment and find the best fit for your specific data set. Try out different combinations of colors, fonts, and other formatting options to determine what works best for your particular sheet.

Remember, the goal is to make your data more visually appealing and easy to interpret. Strive for a formatting style that enhances clarity and readability, helping your audience quickly grasp the key insights from the information presented.


In conclusion, alternating colors in Google Sheets is a simple yet effective way to enhance the visual appeal and readability of your spreadsheets. By following the step-by-step guide outlined above, you can easily bring more organization and clarity to your data. It is important to remember the significance of data visualization in conveying information and making it easily digestible. By applying these techniques, you can not only improve the aesthetic of your spreadsheets but also make data analysis much more efficient and effortless. So go ahead and give it a try! Apply these alternating color techniques to your own spreadsheets and see the difference it makes.

Excel Dashboard

SAVE $698

    Immediate Download

    MAC & PC Compatible

    Free Email Support

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Related aticles