3 Ways to Align Text in Google Sheets [Easy Illustrated Guide]

Google Sheets is a great tool for entering and storing all types of data.

One common task that users want to do, is aligning their text data inside a cell.

Here are 3 easy ways to align text so you can start making your spreadsheets look more professional! 

  1. Align text with the toolbar commands.
  2. Align text from the Format menu.
  3. Align text using a keyboard shortcut.

All of these methods can be used the same regardless of what type of data you have. It will work just the same with text, numbers, dates, or boolean values.

Let me show you how these options can be used! But first, make sure you get the example file to follow along.

What are the Default Alignments for Different Data Types?

Default alignment can change depending on the data type that is entered into a cell. For example, if you enter in some text, Google will automatically align it to be left-justified while numbers are aligned right.

Note: This is usually a good way to spot values that appear to be numerical, but have actually been entered as text.

Above you can see a table of various data types inside cells with their default alignment.

  1. Text is left and bottom aligned.
  2. Numbers are right and bottom aligned.
  3. Dates are right and bottom aligned.
  4. Boolean is center and bottom aligned.
  5. Checkboxes are center and middle aligned.
  6. Pictures are left and bottom aligned. Pictures will scale to fill the height of the cell by default, so you won’t notice the bottom vertical alignment.

However, this can all be manually changed with the alignment options as will be seen in the next sections.

When you consider all the other ways you can format a cell, there are a lot of possible ways to display your data.

Align Cells with the Toolbar Commands.

Google Sheets allows you to align values in cells either horizontally or vertically.

Horizontal options include align left, right, or center. While the vertical alignment options include aligning top, middle, or bottom.

You can combine horizontal and vertical alignment in any combination. For example, you can align a cell with both center and top alignment formatting.

Google Sheets offers the command to align cells right from the toolbar for easy access. This is by far the quickest way to get your text aligned.

Align Cells Horizontally from the Toolbar

To align the values in your cells horizontally follow the below steps.

  1. Select the cells which you want to align.
  2. Click on the Horizontal align icon.
  3. Choose from Left, Center, or Right from the options.

All the selected cells will now have the chosen alignment regardless of the starting alignment.

Align Cells Vertically from the Toolbar

To align the values in your cells vertically follow the below steps.

  1. Select the cells which you want to align.
  2. Click on the Vertical align icon.
  3. Choose from Top, Middle, or Bottom from the options.

All the selected cells will now have the chosen vertical alignment.

Align Cells from the Format menu

These horizontal and vertical alignment tools can be accessed just as easily from the Format menu.

Align Cells Horizontally from the Format Menu

To align your cells horizontally using the Format menu follow these steps below.

  1. Select the cell or range of cells that you want to align.
  2. Click on the Format menu.
  3. Select Align from the options.
  4. Select either Left, Center, or Right from the options.

Your cells will get the chosen horizontal alignment.

The Format menu has the added advantage that you can see what alignment a selected cell already has applied. A checkmark will be displayed next to the option currently in use.

Align Cells Vertically from the Format Menu

To align your cells vertically with the Format menu follow these instructions.

  1. Select the cells that you want to align.
  2. Click on the Format menu.
  3. Select Align from the options.
  4. Select either Top, Middle, or Bottom from the available options.

Your values will be aligned vertically!

Align Cells Using a Keyboard Shortcut

Aligning text is likely going to be a common task in your Google Sheets, thankfully, there are a few keyboard shortcuts that can make the process much quicker.

Align Cells Horizontally Using a Keyboard Shortcut

There are three available shortcuts to align text horizontally. This means there is one for each of the alignment options; Left align, Center align, or Right align.

To use these keyboard shortcuts, select the cells that you want to align and use one of the following shortcuts.

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + L for left alignment.
  2. Press Ctrl + Shift + E for left alignment.
  3. Press Ctrl + Shift + R for right alignment.

These are not too difficult to remember as L stands for Left, E stands for cEnter and R stands for Right!

Align Cells Vertically from the Format Menu

There are no keyboard shortcuts available to vertically align your data in Google Sheets, so you will need to rely on the Format menu or Toolbar commands.

Luckily, vertically aligning data is a less common task in Google Sheets, so these being unavailable as keyboard commands is more forgivable.

Why These Keyboard Shortcuts Might Not Work

You may find the keyboard shortcuts listed above do not work for you.

This is because Google Sheets is browser-based and shares potential keyboard shortcuts with other programs installed in your browser such as extensions.

chrome://extensions/shortcuts

If you are using Chrome as your browser, you can see what keyboard shortcuts are used by other extensions by entering the above in your address bar.

This will list out all your installed extensions and any shortcuts they use. You can then edit the shortcut so it doesn’t conflict with the Google Sheets shortcut.

This should fix any issues with the shortcut not working!

Conclusions

Google Sheets has made it incredibly easy to align your data both horizontally and vertically. Each of these provides three different options for a total combination of 9 ways to align your cell values.

You can quickly access these commands from the toolbar, Format menu, or even a keyboard shortcut in some cases.

Hopefully, you will find these tips useful in your own Google Sheet work! Let me know in the comments section below.

About the Author

John MacDougall

John MacDougall

John is a Microsoft MVP and freelance consultant and trainer specializing in Excel, Power BI, Power Automate, Power Apps, and SharePoint. You can find other interesting articles from John on his blog or YouTube channel.

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