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Cell Formatting – Change the Look

Did you know that you can change the appearance of cells in a spreadsheet? There’s actually a whole lot you can change!

You can change:

  • The fill color (background color of the cell)
  • The font color (the color of the text)
  • The cell border width and color (a line drawn around the cell)
  • The alignment (where you want the text to be in the cell)
  • The font style and size (the style of the text and how big it is)
  • The number format (how the data is displayed)

We will show you how to do all of these things when working with cells in a spreadsheet.

The Fill Color

The fill color is the background color of a cell.


In Excel, you can change the fill color by selecting a cell and using the Ribbon to select a new color.


In Google Sheets, you can change it by using the Toolbar.

The Font Color

The font color is the color of any data or text within the cell.


To change the font color in Excel, select the cell you want to update and use the Ribbon to change the color.


In Google Sheets, select the cell you want to change and use the Toolbar.

The Cell Border

You can add a border to any cell or group of cells within a spreadsheet. It is simply a colored line drawn around the outside of the cell.


To add or modify a border in Excel, use the Ribbon. Click on the down arrow next to the border button.


You can select any of the border presets or click on “More Borders…” to pick your preferred border color and width.


In Google Sheets, you use the border button in the Toolbar to design and apply a border to selected cells.


The alignment of a cell determines where the text will sit in the cell.

You have three options for vertical alignment and three options for horizontal alignment.


To adjust the alignment in Excel, use the alignment buttons in the Ribbon.


To adjust the alignment in Google Sheets, use the alignment buttons in the Toolbar.

Font Size and Style

You can change the font size and style of the text in any cell within your spreadsheet.


To adjust the font in Excel, use the Ribbon.


To adjust the font in Google Sheets, use the Toolbar.


Number Format

The number format refers to how the data is represented or displayed.

For example, take the number 0.65.

It can be displayed in many different ways:

  • 0.65
  • $0.65
  • 65%

The above representations of this number are all different examples of a specific number formatting.

To change the number format in Excel, you can use the Ribbon or right-click and then click Format Cells…


The “Format Cells” dialog box will appear.


Under the Number tab, you can adjust the number formatting any way to would like to. To select a new format:

  • Choose the category
  • Adjust the settings
  • Click Ok

In Google Sheets, you can change the number format of the selected cell(s) by clicking on the 123 button in the Toolbar.


You will see a list of number formats you can pick from, or you can create a custom number format to fit your needs.


And that’s how you change and apply formatting to cells in spreadsheets.

For more about the Excel Ribbon and Google Sheets Toolbar, check out the posts below.

More About the Excel Ribbon

More About the Google Sheets Toolbar

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