How To Indent On Google Sheets

Last Updated on October 31, 2023 by Jake Sheridan

In this tutorial, you will learn how to indent in Google Sheets.

How to Indent On Google Sheets

Indenting text in Google Sheets can help visually break up the spreadsheet so it’s easier to read and understand.

For example, if you have a list that contains categories, indenting list items can set them apart from the category headings and make the list easier to read.

The screenshot below shows a grocery list with items categorized by department. Notice how it’s very hard to read what is a list item and what is a department.

Adding a simple indent before each list item would make things much clearer

Adding Indents with Number Formatting

Unfortunately, in Google Sheets there’s no built-in indenting tool like there is in other applications. We can get around this by creating custom number formatting and applying it to the cells we want to indent.

Follow these steps to create a custom number format that indents your cells:

Step 1

Select the cells you want to indent.

Don’t worry if you don’t get them all now. You can always apply the indenting number format to additional cells later

Step 2

Open the Format menu and select the Number submenu.

Scroll down to the bottom of the Number submenu and select the More Formats submenu.

Step 3

From the Custom Formats submenu, select Custom Number Format:

Step 4

In the window that appears, type four spaces followed by an at sign (@) into the Custom Number Format field.

This will indent your text by four spaces.

If you need more or less indenting, adjust the number of spaces.

The at sign is a placeholder for text, telling the spreadsheet to display the content of the cell after the four spaces.

Step 5

Click Apply, and you’ll see the data in the selected cells indent:

Assigning Indent Formatting to Additional Cells

Now that you’ve defined the indent formatting, it’s easy to apply to additional cells as needed. Here’s how:

Step 1

Select the additional cells you want to assign formatting to

Step 2

Open the Format menu and then select the Number submenu

Step 3

Scroll down to almost the bottom of the Number submenu and you’ll see a new option for the custom format you just created.

The menu option shows the format definition you typed, which will look like an at sign, and a sample of what a cell looks like formatted with it, which will be 1234.56 since the indent doesn’t show in the menu option.

Select this option:

Step 4

The indent will now be applied to the selected cells:

Removing Indenting

You can remove indenting easily by applying another cell format.

For example, if you want Google Sheets to automatically format the cell based on its contents again, simply select the Automatic option from the Numbers submenu in the Format menu and your text will no longer be indented.


Example Spreadsheet: Make a copy of the example spreadsheet

In this tutorial, I covered how to indent in Google Sheets. Want more? Check out all the Google Sheets Tutorials.