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

Highlighting every other row on Google Sheets is a common task for those looking to organize and visually separate data. The process involves using the “Conditional Formatting” feature, which automatically applies formatting to rows based on a set of rules. After completing this action, the sheet will have alternating colored rows, making it easier to read and navigate.

What happens after you complete the action of highlighting every other row is that you’ll have a sheet that’s not only more visually appealing but also more functional. The alternating colors can help prevent errors when entering or reading data, as each row becomes distinctly separate from the next.


Google Sheets is a powerful tool for organizing and analyzing data. Whether you’re a student tracking your grades, a small business owner keeping tabs on inventory, or just someone who loves to keep their to-do list neatly sorted, the ability to highlight every other row (also known as ‘zebra striping’) can be a game-changer. It’s a simple trick that can make a big difference in how you interact with your data.

Highlighting every other row makes it easier to follow along with large sets of data without losing your place. It’s especially useful when you’re working with others, as it helps everyone stay on the same page—literally. So, if you’re ready to learn how to make your Google Sheets look more professional and user-friendly, keep reading. This skill is relevant to anyone who uses spreadsheets regularly and wants to improve their data-visualization skills.

Step by Step Tutorial to Highlight Every Other Row on Google Sheets

Before we dive into the steps, let’s briefly discuss what we will achieve. By following these instructions, you’ll learn how to use conditional formatting to apply color to every other row in your Google Sheets document. This will make your data easier to read and your sheet more visually organized.

Step 1: Select the Range

Start by selecting the range of cells you want to format.

Step 2: Open Conditional Formatting

Click on “Format” in the menu and then select “Conditional formatting.”

Step 3: Create a Custom Formula

Under the “Format cells if” drop-down, choose “Custom formula is.”

Step 4: Enter the Formula

In the formula box, enter “=ISEVEN(ROW())” to highlight even rows or “=ISODD(ROW())” to highlight odd rows.

Step 5: Choose a Formatting Style

Select the fill color you’d like to apply and any other formatting options, then click “Done.”


Enhanced ReadabilityAlternating row colors improve the readability of your data, reducing the likelihood of errors when analyzing or entering information.
Visual AppealA well-organized sheet with highlighted rows looks more professional and is visually pleasing, which can be important when sharing your work with others.
Easy NavigationIt’s easier to follow along and keep track of your place in a large dataset when every other row is highlighted, especially during presentations or collaborative work.


Limited CustomizationWhile conditional formatting provides various options, you may be limited in terms of the complexity of patterns and designs you can create compared to manual formatting.
Formula ComplexityFor those unfamiliar with Google Sheets formulas, creating custom formulas for conditional formatting can be intimidating or confusing.
Potential for DistractionIf not used judiciously, highlighting every other row can become visually overwhelming and distract from important data points.

Additional Information

When highlighting every other row in Google Sheets, it’s important to consider the overall design of your spreadsheet. You want to ensure that the colors you choose aren’t too bright or distracting, as this could make your data harder to read rather than easier. Soft, pastel colors or light shades often work best for zebra striping, as they provide a gentle contrast without overwhelming the eyes.

Another tip is to make sure that the text color you’re using is compatible with your chosen highlight color. Black text on a dark blue background, for instance, can be challenging to read. Always aim for high contrast between your text and background colors.

Remember, the goal of highlighting every other row is to make your data easier to work with, not to turn your spreadsheet into a rainbow of colors. If you find that the highlighting is making it harder to focus on your data, you might want to reconsider your color choices or use the formatting more sparingly.


  1. Select the range of cells you want to format.
  2. Click on “Format” and then “Conditional formatting.”
  3. Choose “Custom formula is” from the “Format cells if” drop-down.
  4. Enter “=ISEVEN(ROW())” or “=ISODD(ROW())” in the formula box.
  5. Select your desired fill color and click “Done.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I highlight more than just every other row?

Yes, you can adjust the formula to highlight rows in different patterns, such as every third or fourth row.

What if I want to highlight columns instead of rows?

To highlight columns, you would use the COLUMN function in your formula instead of ROW.

Will the highlighting adjust if I add or remove rows?

Yes, because conditional formatting is based on a formula, it will automatically adjust if you add or remove rows.

Can I apply other formatting styles besides color?

Absolutely! You can also apply text formatting such as bold, italic, or underline using conditional formatting.

How do I remove the highlighting if I no longer need it?

Go back to “Conditional formatting,” select the rule you applied, and click “Remove rule.”


Highlighting every other row on Google Sheets can transform your data from a plain, lifeless grid into a well-organized, easily navigable, and visually appealing masterpiece. It’s a simple yet effective way to enhance your data analysis and presentation skills.

Whether you’re a seasoned spreadsheet guru or a newbie just getting your feet wet, mastering the art of conditional formatting is a valuable skill that can help you make the most of your data. Give it a try, and watch your Google Sheets come to life!