4 Basic Google Sheets Features to Get You Started

Diomedes Gonzalez
PD Specialist
Blog on September 08 2021

Google Sheets is one of many apps offered by Google Workspace. It is a web-based spreadsheet that can be used for multiple purposes. Sheets is great for organizing and visualizing data like grades, or as a hub for resources and rubrics. In this post we’ll share basic tips that will help you navigate this great resource so you can feel comfortable using it in your class. 

Freeze Rows and Columns

Did you know that you can freeze rows and columns? This feature is useful when you have a lot of data or information on the spreadsheet and you want the headers to stay in place while you scroll through the sheet. For example, you want to be able to see the date or name of a column across the top while scrolling through grades in lower cells (a cell is the space that contains the data value). To enable this feature, highlight the row or column that you would like to freeze. Next, from the menu options select “View” then select “Freeze.” Now you’ll never lose sight of what the data in each cell represents!

Conditional formatting or alternating colors

This feature will allow you to visually analyze your data by adding colors to the cells. Conditional formatting allows you to change the cell’s color based on the rules you set. For example, if you’re collecting data based on people’s favorite mode of transportation you can set a rule so that all the cells that have the word “car” are red and all the cells that have the word “motorcycle” are green. This feature makes your data pop out, making it easier to understand. Check out this skills video explaining conditional formatting.



There are many functions available in Google Sheets. Here are ones that are easy to get started with. SUM: Use this function to get the sum of a series of numbers. AVERAGE: Use this function to get the average of a set of data. IF: Use this function to determine what value you receive when an expression is true or false (eg. If it’s true that the dataset is >=50 then set the return value to “YES” if false set it to “NO”). All functions can be found under the Sigma (Σ) icon on the top menu bar.


The explore feature allows you to ask specific questions about the dataset on the spreadsheet. It generates suggested content for you (based on the data) such as average score, sum of school population, etc. It is an excellent way to visualize data as it also allows you to generate and insert charts into your sheet. To access the Explore feature click the icon in the bottom right corner.


To learn more about Google Sheets and other Google Workspace Apps checkout the “Skills” section on our website. For more in depth information on Google Sheets check out Google Workspace for Education: Google Sheets


For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.

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