How-To

How to Change Cell Padding in Google Sheets

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A good way to add spaces between cells in Google Sheets spreadsheet is to add cell padding. This isn’t a feature in Sheets, but there is a workaround.

Want to increase the space between the cells in a spreadsheet? You’ll need to look at the cell padding.

It’s fairly straightforward—the bigger the padding, the bigger the gap between the cells. While Excel allows you to change this setting, it’s trickier in Google Sheets, which doesn’t have an easy-to-change cell padding functionality.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, however. If you want to know how to change cell padding in Google Sheets, follow the steps below.

How to Change Vertical Cell Padding in Google Sheets

The easiest way to replicate vertical cell padding in Google Sheets is to use the vertical alignment tool.

To change vertical cell padding in Google Sheets:

  1. Select the cells that you want to add vertical cell padding to—to select all cells, select the space at the very top left of your sheet or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + A (Windows) or Cmd + A (Mac).
    Select all in Google Sheets
  2. Press the Vertical Align tool.
    Vertical align in Google Sheets
  3. Select the Middle option.
    Vertical align in Google Sheets
  4. To see the effects of your changes, you’ll need to increase the height of the cells. Select all the cells in your sheet by clicking in the space at the very top left of your sheet or by pressing Ctrl + A or Cmd + A.
  5. Hover the cursor over the bottom of one of the row numbers until an arrow appears.
    Adjusting the cell height in Google Sheets
  6. Drag down to increase the height of all cells—your vertical cell padding will become visible.
    Setting cell padding in Google Sheets

How to Change Horizontal Cell Padding in Google Sheets

You can use the Horizontal Align tool in a similar way to align all your cells horizontally.

To change horizontal cell padding in Google Sheets:

  1. Select some or all of the cells in your spreadsheet.
  2. Press the Horizontal Align tool.
    Selecting the horizontal align tool in Google Sheets
  3. Select the Center option.
    Choosing to center align a cell in Google Sheets

How to Set Specific Horizontal Cell Padding in Google Sheets

The method above will align your cells centrally, but it is possible to be more specific about how much horizontal padding your cells have.

To set specific horizontal cell padding in Google Sheets:

  1. Highlight the cells that you want to apply padding to (or select all of them).
  2. Open the Format menu.
    Opening the format menu in Google Sheets
  3. Hover over Number and select Custom Number Format from the very bottom of the list of options.
    Choosing a custom number type in Google Sheets
  4. Select the Custom Number Format box.
    Selecting a custom number format in Google Sheets
  5. Press Space to insert empty spaces. If you want five spaces before your cell contents, press the Space five times.
  6. Type an @ symbol, then press Space the same number of times to insert more spaces after your cell contents.
    Selecting a number format in Google Sheets
  7. Click Apply.
  8. To adjust the width of the cells to fit your padding, select all cells by clicking in the space at the very top left of your sheet or press Ctrl + A or Cmd + A.
  9. Hover over the right-hand edge of one of the column letter cells and double click.
    Google Sheets cell width

Your columns will now change to the width of the widest cell in each column, including your custom padding.
Adjusted cell width in Google Sheets

Adding Cell Padding to Cells Containing Formulas

Any cells containing numbers or text will now have your custom horizontal padding, but formulas will not. You can fix this by pasting your formulas as values.

To apply cell padding to cells with formulas:

  1. Highlight the cells containing the formulas.
  2. Press Ctrl+C on Windows or Cmd+C on Mac to copy the cells.
  3. Right-click any of the cells, hover over Paste Special, and select Values Only.
    Pasting cell values in Google Sheets
  4. Click Apply.

With this setting applied, your cells should now have horizontal padding.
Example of padded cells in Google Sheets

Creating Complex Google Sheets Spreadsheets

It might not match Excel for features, but Google Sheets is still a powerful application for manipulating data in a spreadsheet. If you follow the steps above, you should be able to change cell padding in Google Sheets—even without a dedicated padding feature.

There are other surprising features that you can try out in Google Sheets (if you know where to look). For instance, you can add code to your spreadsheets using a custom Google Sheets script. You also can use fill-down tricks in Google Sheets to quickly replicate values or formulas.

Want to automate your spreadsheet? You can even configure Google Sheets to send an email based on a cell value.

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