I admit it, I used to be a staunch Excel snob who would turn up her nose at Google Sheets… so much so that I didn’t even realize that core Excel functions are now available in Google Sheets (like pivot tables! and vlookups!).  My, my, my how the … tables have turned!  Thanks to some great reader feedback, my goal is to make The Data Are Alright compatible with both platforms (where possible) so that we can make the most of all of the tools available to changemakers.

Back in the day (2 months ago…), I made a blog post about one of my favorite Excel tricks, the “Format as Table” feature (link to original post). Now, I’m eating my words and serving up a second helping, this time in Sheets.

But first…

Why tables?

  1.  In Tables (as opposed to regular old spreadsheets, rows alternate colors, which makes them prettier AND easier for your eyes to track
  2.  Tables offset your Column Titles in a darker color
  3.  Tables make it super easy to sort and filter your data
  4.  When you sort and filter your data, you can find blank cells and inconsistencies (and more!)  I’ll save sorting and filtering for another blog post, but trust me, you can do all kinds of awesome things with this feature combo.

Tables in Excel (refresher)

Excel makes “Format as table” really simple.  All you have to do is select the data that belong in your table, and then click “CTRL + T” (Windows) or “Apple + T” (Mac).  Alternatively, there’s a Format as Table button in the standard toolbar.

Tables in Google Sheets

Unfortunately, Sheets doesn’t have a “one stop shop” for Tables.  Here are two very simple steps that give you a lot of the same functionality, but with added Google benefits, like being free, cloud based, and shareable with multiple collaborators.

sample data no formatting
Select the data that belong in your Table (in this case, my sample Phonebanking data).  After you select your cells, Google Sheets will display a green border around the data.
sample data with filters
After selecting the data, click the the Filter button (funnel icon) in your toolbar.  If your screen is not maximized, you may need to click a small triangle button to see more options.  Then, you can click, “Filter”.  The Column Labels and Row Labels (A, B, C, 1, 2, 3, etc) will highlight green and little triangles will appear in your Column Names.  You should always select the Filter button after you have given your columns names (like Name, Called, and RSVP?
sample data with filters and alternating colors
Finally, select your data one more time and click the Format menu in your tool bar.  Then, select Alternating Colors.  Google Sheets will open an Alternating Colors dialogue box in the side bar.  You can select from pre-defined alternating color pallets or design your own.

From this point forward, as you add additional data to your rows or columns, Google Sheets will automatically incorporate your data into the alternating color theme.

Also, you can use those handy striped triangles in your column header to select, sort and filter down your data so that you can see just the important segments at any given time.  This becomes really useful if you want to see JUST the “RSVP Maybes” or just the people who haven’t been called.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!  I have some exciting TDAA projects up my sleeves, so stay tuned for more!

3 thoughts on “Let’s table it: now in Google Sheets!

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