How do you format a cell in a spreadsheet?

Formatting a cell in a spreadsheet is like dressing it up to present your data more effectively. Let’s start off with a business scenario to provide some context. 

Imagine you own a small business, and you’re using a spreadsheet to keep track of your monthly sales. You have a table with columns for the product name, quantity sold, and revenue. You’d like to format these cells to make the data more organized and visually appealing. 

Here’s an example of how the table might look: 

  Product Name  Quantity Sold  Revenue 
1  Widget A  100  1,000.00 
2  Widget B  75  750.00 
3  Widget C  50  500.00 
4  Widget D  25  250.00 
5  Total  250  2,500.00 


Text formatting: You might want to bold the header row (Product Name, Quantity Sold, Revenue) to make it stand out. 

  • Click on the cell you want to format (e.g., A1). 
  • Locate the “Bold” button, typically represented by a “B” icon in the toolbar. 
  • Click the “Bold” button. 


Number formatting: For the revenue column, you want to display the numbers as currency (e.g., $1,000). 

  • Click on the cell containing the revenue number (e.g., C2). 
  • Find the “Format” or “Number Format” option in the toolbar or menu. It may be represented by a currency symbol, “$,” or a percentage symbol, “%.” 
  • Choose the currency format (e.g., $1,000.00). 


Cell color: You’d like to shade alternating rows in a light color to make the data easier to read. 

  • Click on the row number of the first row you want to shade (e.g., 2). 
  • Hold the “Ctrl” key (or “Cmd” on a Mac) and click on the row number of each additional row you want to shade. 
  • Locate the “Fill Color” or “Background Color” button in the toolbar, often represented by a paint bucket icon. 
  • Choose a light color from the color palette. 


Borders: To make your table look more professional, you’d like to add borders around the cells. 

  • Click and drag to select the entire table (e.g., A1:C6). 
  • Find the “Borders” button in the toolbar, usually represented by a square with dashed or solid lines. 
  • Choose the border style you want to apply (e.g., “All Borders”). 


Cell alignment: Lastly, you want to center-align the headers and right-align the revenue numbers. 

  • Click and drag to select the header row (e.g., A1:C1). 
  • Locate the “Center Align” button in the toolbar, typically represented by a centered, horizontal line icon. 
  • Click the “Center Align” button. 
  • Next, click and drag to select the cells with revenue numbers (e.g., C2:C6). 
  • Find the “Right Align” button in the toolbar, usually represented by a right-aligned, horizontal line icon. 
  • Click the “Right Align” button. 


That’s it! Now, you’ve learned how to format cells in a spreadsheet using real-world business examples. Remember that different spreadsheet applications (e.g., Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, LibreOffice Calc) might have slightly different icons and menu locations, but the overall process is very similar. Happy formatting!