A spreadsheet is all about the data present within the file. So it is a good idea to understand our way through handling it. In this blog post, we will have a look at the various ways of working with the data within Google Sheets.

Key in data within a cell

As we are already aware, a cell is the building block of the entire spreadsheet. All the data that we usually handle is stored in any of these available cells. To start entering data, select a cell, and we should see a blue highlight around it indicating that the cell is active. Now, start typing content (can be numbers or, text). In doing so, we will see the content appear both within the cell as well as the formula bar above the spreadsheet real estate.

Working with data - Illustration 1

The cell will still be in the edit mode, and the changes will be final only when we navigate out of the cell. We do that either using the enter/return key, tab key, or just by clicking away in any other part of the spreadsheet.

Copy & paste data

The computer’s clipboard is a life saver when it comes to quickly transferring data between or within the files. We can use that to good effect within Google Sheets too. Copy any content from another file (using right-click > Copy, or with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + C/Cmd + C). Then to paste it on to a cell within select that first, and then paste it (using right-click > Paste, or with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + V/Cmd+V). The formatting will usually be retained. We can do this within the spreadsheet as well. Copy and paste the contents of a cell onto a different cell, and we will see that both the contents as well as the formatting are retained. Similarly, we can copy the contents of the spreadsheets onto other files. Except the tabular format can’t get carried forward into the applications that don’t support tables.

Cut-paste and drag data

This is very similar to the copy-paste action, except the content is removed from the source and placed at the destination. The keyboard combinations to cut content is Ctrl + X/Cmd + X. Alternatively, here’s an interesting Google Sheets user interface option that mimics the Cut-paste operation – the drag feature. If we need to move the cell(s) to another location within the spreadsheet. Select the cells, and hover the mouse onto the selection to let the cursor change to represent a “hand”. Then click and drag the selection to the place where we need it. For example, in the screenshot below, we are trying to drag the content from the cells A1:A5 to B1:B5.

Working with data - Illustration 2

Auto-fill content

There will be times when we’d like some help, probably in terms of quickly filling off a column with a sequence of numbers or dates. Or with a list of repeated text values, or even similar formulas. The Auto-fill feature can help us through this. And it is very simple to use. For instance, if we need a list of increasing times, spaced with equal intervals. That’s too time-consuming to do it manually. So, to get a whole list of them, just key in the first two cells. Select both cells, hover the mouse to the bottom left corner of the selection. We’ll see the cursor turn to a ‘+‘ symbol. We then click and drag the cursor further down to populate as many values as we need. In the snapshot below, we tried to populate the times until the cell A8. Once we let go of the mouse, the cells will show the incremental times automatically.

Working with data - Illustration 3

Auto-fit and wrap content

Sometimes there will be content that is beyond the width and/or height of the cells. There are two simple solutions to this. Either we expand the width of the column or height of the row. To expand a column, hover the mouse onto the intersection of the columns on the top, then we’ll notice the cursor changed to a symbol like this: <-||->. Once that happens, just click and drag the column to adjust the width. Instead, a quicker way is to just double-click once the cursor changes to that symbol. The column auto fits the entire column content to the maximum width of any cells within that column.

If we do not want to extend the width, but adjust the row height automatically, then we can go with Text wrap option. When we click on this option, Google Sheets will appropriately expand the row height to fit the cell content.

Working with data - Illustration 4

Miscellaneous

There are two types of content in Google Sheets – text and numbers (including dates and times). Unless we explicitly change the content alignment, the text values are will always appear left-aligned. And the numbers appear always right aligned. This is one of the ways to identify the number 1000 from the text “1000”.

Working with data - Illustration 5

Let us know if you have any remarks or questions by commenting down below!