Google Sheets comment vs note: a comparison

Differences between notes and comments in Google Sheets - Featured Image

Written by Valentine Schelstraete

Oct 14, 2017

Most of us tend to write things down while we are working on something. We do so either to not lose track of things or to use them for reference at a future point in time. It is much more beneficial in case there are multiple people working on the task. In the context of working on computers, we have many means to document things which people can work with. Given the collaborative framework that Google Sheets is built upon, it is no wonder these utilities are built right into the cloud-based spreadsheets application. They are referred to as Google Sheets comment vs note. Both are intended for us to be able to jot down things for future reference. However, there’s a slight difference between them, which isn’t directly obvious for the uninformed.

Google Sheets comment vs note

The Google Sheets spreadsheets files are made up of cells. All the information we see is stored in these cells. Fred is the student coordinator for the executive recruitment process being held in his b-school. Here’s the snapshot of the spreadsheet he uses to keep track of things.

Recruitment Status Report with Sample Data in Google Sheets


So far so good. But he wanted to make small text references against certain cells. Using a different column to hold this information may not be such a good idea. Because there could be much more such cells. What can Fred do? Simple. He can utilize the Notes functionality in Google Sheets to add additional information to cells. To do this, he will need to:

Select cell (for e.g. C2) > right-click > choose Insert note option.

Google Sheets Comment vs Note: How to Insert Note

He can then add the text of his choice and click somewhere else on the spreadsheet. The cell (in this example, C2) will show a dark triangle on the top right corner to indicate this cell contains a note. Hovering the mouse over this cell will pop the note as shown below.

Google Sheets Comment vs Note: Insert Note Example in Google Sheets

A note is just a simple text notation, that is linked to a particular cell. It doesn’t have a history. When we copy cells with notes to other cells or spreadsheets, both the cells’ content and their corresponding notes gets copied. We can clear off the notes by right-clicking the cell and choosing ‘Clear notes’ option.

A note is a handy utility that is good for a single-user situation. However, in a scenario where there are multiple users, an ideal solution is Comments.


Nik is Fred’s assistant who also works on this spreadsheet. Nik has appropriate access permissions to this file. Fred wants Nik to find out the status with respect to Brandi Davidson (cell C4). With Notes, he couldn’t assign something to Nik, but with Comments, he can:

Select cell (C4) > right-click > choose Insert comment option.

Google Sheets Comment vs Note: Insert Comment

Not only can he initiate a conversation with people working on the spreadsheet (in this case, Nik), but also assign it to them, so that they can take an action on it.

Assign Task in Google Sheets with Comment

Once assigned, Nik can respond to it, which Fred will see on his Google Sheets as shown in the image below.

Google Sheets Comment vs Note: Conversation Features with Comment

After the conversation draws to a conclusion, they can mark the conversation done and hide it.

Just as notes, comments can be copied from one document to another. And it’s really simple to do it. Select Make a copy from the File menu and check the box Copy comments and suggestions or Copy comments, and that’s it. Then, in the new sheet, will contain a note, saying that they were copied from the original one. Also, the conversation history is recorded and we can access it by clicking on the Comments button available at the top right corner.

Google Sheets Comment vs Note

Conclusion Google Sheets comment vs note

Both notes and comments in Google sheets are handy means to help us keep track of things that we may forget. While the former supports a single user better, the latter helps us in case there are multiple users. Check out the following blog post that sums up 10 spreadsheet tips and tricks to maximize your results in Google Sheets!

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