How to Outline Cells in Google Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Outlining cells in Google Sheets is a breeze. All you need to do is select the cells you want to outline, click on the borders icon in the toolbar, and choose the border style you want. And voila, you have a neatly outlined set of cells that can make your data pop and help with organization.

Once you’ve outlined your cells, your data will become much easier to read and analyze. Outlined cells can help differentiate sections, highlight important information, or simply make your spreadsheet look more professional.


Have you ever been lost in a sea of data in a Google Sheet, unable to distinguish one section from another? Or perhaps you’ve wanted a way to make certain information stand out? Outlining cells can be a game-changer in both scenarios. Google Sheets, a widely used spreadsheet tool, offers a variety of ways to manipulate data, including the ability to outline cells.

This feature serves multiple purposes such as improving visual appeal, organizing data, and making it easier to read and interpret. Whether you’re a student organizing your research, an office worker managing large datasets, or someone just trying to keep track of personal finances, knowing how to outline cells can significantly enhance your Sheets experience. Let’s get into how you can do this effectively and effortlessly.

Related: How to Make a Header Row in Google Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step by Step Tutorial to Outline Cells in Google Sheets

Before we delve into the steps, it is crucial to understand that outlining cells can help segregate data, highlight critical points, and give a structured look to your spreadsheet.

Step 1: Select the cells you want to outline.

Click and drag your mouse over the cells you wish to outline.

Selecting the cells is the initial step in the process. You can select a single cell, a range of cells, or multiple ranges by holding down the Ctrl key (Cmd key on Mac) while selecting.

Step 2: Click on the borders icon in the toolbar.

The borders icon looks like a square divided into four smaller squares.

After selecting your cells, locate the borders icon in the Google Sheets toolbar. It will show you different border options once you click on it.

Step 3: Choose the border style you want.

You can choose from a solid line, a dashed line, or a dotted line.

Google Sheets provides various border styles to choose from. You can go for a thick line for prominent outlining or a subtle dotted line for a softer look.

Step 4: Apply the border to the selected cells.

After choosing your style, click on the border option that outlines the cells.

Once you click on your preferred border style, the changes will be instantly applied to the selected cells. You can always undo or change the style if needed.


Enhanced ReadabilityOutlining cells helps to break down data into manageable sections, making it easier to navigate through the spreadsheet.
Visual AppealA well-organized sheet with outlined cells is not just functional, but also aesthetically pleasing, which can be crucial for presentations.
Error ReductionClearly delineated sections can reduce the likelihood of data entry errors, as it’s easier to see where data should be entered.


Overuse Can Be CounterproductiveIf you outline too many cells or sections, it can make the spreadsheet look cluttered and overwhelming.
Potential to Obscure DataIf you choose a border style that’s too bold or thick, it can distract from the actual data within the cells.
Time ConsumingIf you’re working with a large dataset, outlining the necessary cells can be a time-consuming process.

Additional Information

When outlining cells in Google Sheets, you can also customize the color of the borders. This additional feature allows you to further categorize and prioritize sections of your data, making your spreadsheet even more intuitive. To change the border color, simply select the border color icon next to the border style icon in the toolbar after selecting your cells.

Additionally, keep in mind that outlined cells can also be combined with other formatting options such as cell shading or text formatting for an even more organized look. Moreover, remember to consider the printability of your sheet; ensure that the borders are clearly visible when printed if you intend to have a hard copy.


  1. Select the cells to outline.
  2. Click on the borders icon.
  3. Choose the border style.
  4. Apply the border.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I outline non-adjacent cells?

Yes, hold down the Ctrl key (Cmd key on Mac) while selecting non-adjacent cells, then follow the usual steps to apply the border.

Is it possible to save a custom border style?

No, Google Sheets doesn’t currently allow you to save custom border styles. Border styles need to be applied manually each time.

How can I remove the outline from cells?

Select the outlined cells, click on the borders icon, and choose the “No borders” option.

Can I apply different border styles to different sides of a cell?

Absolutely! Click on the borders icon and select the specific border style for each side of the cell as needed.

Is there a shortcut to outline cells?

While there’s no direct shortcut, you can use keyboard shortcuts to quickly navigate and select cells before outlining them.


Mastering the art of outlining cells in Google Sheets can elevate your data organization and presentation skills to new heights. Whether it’s for personal use, academic purposes, or professional settings, a neatly outlined set of cells can go a long way in making information comprehensible and visually appealing.

Remember to balance functionality with aesthetics when applying borders, and don’t shy away from experimenting with colors and styles. With the knowledge you’ve gained today, you’re all set to transform your Google Sheets into a well-structured masterpiece. Happy outlining!