How to Highlight on Google Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Learning how to highlight on Google Sheets is a straightforward task. Simply select the cell or range of cells you want to highlight, click the “Fill color” button on the toolbar, and choose your desired color. That’s it! Now the selected cells are highlighted in the color you picked.

Once you’ve highlighted cells in Google Sheets, the visual appeal of your spreadsheet will increase, making it easier to navigate and differentiate between sections or categories of data.


When it comes to organizing and presenting data, few tools are as versatile and widely used as Google Sheets. This free, web-based spreadsheet application allows users to create, edit, and share spreadsheets with ease. One of the most useful features of Google Sheets is the ability to highlight cells, which can help users quickly identify key information, categorize data, or simply make their spreadsheet more visually appealing.

But why is this topic important, and who is it relevant to? Well, whether you’re a student, business professional, or just someone who loves to keep their personal projects neatly organized, knowing how to highlight on Google Sheets can be a game-changer. It can save you time, reduce errors, and, let’s be honest, it can make your spreadsheet look pretty snazzy too. It’s a simple skill, but one that can significantly impact the effectiveness of your data management.

Related: How to Remove Fill Color in Google Sheets

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Highlight on Google Sheets

Before diving into the steps, it’s important to understand that highlighting cells can do more than just improve aesthetics. It can also serve as a functional tool to categorize or prioritize data within your spreadsheet.

Step 1: Select the Cells

Click and drag to select the cells you want to highlight.

Selecting the correct cells is crucial because it ensures that you are highlighting the intended data. If you accidentally highlight the wrong cells, it could cause confusion or misinterpretation.

Step 2: Click the Fill Color Button

Look for the paint bucket icon in the toolbar and click on it to open the color palette.

This step is where you get to be creative. The color palette offers a variety of colors to choose from, so pick one that will make the important data stand out.

Step 3: Choose Your Color

Select the color you wish to use to highlight the selected cells.

The color you choose can have different meanings. For instance, you might use yellow for caution, green for approval, or red for urgency. Think about the context and choose a color that communicates the right message.


Improved OrganizationHighlighting cells can drastically improve the organization of your spreadsheet, making it easier for you to find and focus on the most important information.
Enhanced Visual AppealA well-organized and color-coded spreadsheet is visually appealing and can be easier to read and understand at a glance.
Better Data AnalysisBy categorizing data with different highlight colors, you can quickly perform data analysis tasks such as identifying trends or outliers.


Overuse Can Be CounterproductiveUsing too many colors or highlighting excessively can make your spreadsheet look cluttered and lead to confusion.
Color Blindness ConsiderationsNot everyone perceives colors in the same way. For people with color blindness, certain color highlights may not be as effective.
Printing ChallengesIf you need a hard copy, highlighted colors in Google Sheets may not print as expected, which can impact the readability of the printed document.

Additional Information

While the steps above cover the basics of highlighting on Google Sheets, there are a few additional tips and tricks that can elevate your spreadsheet game. For instance, you can use conditional formatting to automatically highlight cells based on specific criteria, such as values above or below a certain threshold. This can be a huge time-saver if you’re working with large datasets.

Another useful tip is to create a legend or key for your color-coding system, especially if you’re sharing the spreadsheet with others. This ensures that everyone understands what the different colors represent.

Lastly, consider accessibility when choosing your highlight colors. Make sure there is sufficient contrast between the text and background color to ensure readability for everyone, including those with visual impairments. Remember, highlighting on Google Sheets isn’t just about making things look pretty; it’s about enhancing the functionality and clarity of your data.

Summary – How to Highlight on Google Sheets

  1. Select the cells you want to highlight.
  2. Click the paint bucket icon in the toolbar.
  3. Choose your desired color from the palette.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I highlight multiple non-adjacent cells?

Yes, you can hold down the Ctrl key (or Cmd on Mac) while clicking on individual cells to select and highlight multiple non-adjacent cells.

How do I remove highlighting from cells?

To remove highlighting, simply select the cells, click the “Fill color” button, and choose “Reset” or the white color at the top of the palette.

Can I use custom colors for highlighting?

Absolutely! Google Sheets allows you to add custom colors using hex codes or the color picker for a more personalized touch.

Is there a way to highlight an entire row or column?

Indeed! Click on the row number or column letter to select the entire row or column, then follow the same steps to apply the highlight color.

How do I copy highlighted cells to another sheet without losing the color?

You can copy and paste the cells normally, and the highlighting will be preserved in the new location.


Highlighting on Google Sheets is more than just a way to spruce up your spreadsheets; it’s a practical skill that enhances data management and analysis. Whether you’re compiling a budget, tracking project progress, or organizing event logistics, knowing how to efficiently use highlighting can make your tasks easier and your data more accessible. Remember, a little color goes a long way in transforming a drab table of figures into an organized, easy-to-understand masterpiece. So go ahead, give it a try, and watch your Google Sheets come to life!

Join Our Free Newsletter

Featured guides and deals

You may opt out at any time. Read our Privacy Policy