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How to Indent in Google Sheets [Easiest Method!]

May 8, 2024

Indenting is a great way to bring clarification to data, this is especially useful when needing to visualize various levels in data. Google Sheets does have an indent feature, but we show you two simple methods to get around this.

Indent using Custom Number Formatting in Google Sheets

To demonstrate our methods a sample sheet was created in Google Sheets. You can access this by clicking here and following along at home.

Step 1: Select the cells to indent

Select the cells in your data to apply the indentation to. In Google Sheets you can select multiple cells that are not next to each other by holding down the Ctrl key when selecting on Windows or the command key when selecting on Mac. In our example we are going to select all of the cells relating to the sub category in our list.

How to indent text in Google Sheets: Select cells

Step 2: Select Format > Number > Custom number format

From the top toolbar select Format, this will present a drop down menu, select Number from this. You will now see another menu appear, at the bottom of this you click on Custom number format.

How to indent text in Google Sheets: Menu navigation

Step 3: Input the indent parameters

A pop up window will display, in the field labelled custom number format input 3 spaces followed by the @ symbol. The @ symbol will not show in your data, the spaces will act as the indentation.

How to indent text in Google Sheets: Custom number formats

Step 4: Select Apply and see the results

Click the Apply button and you will now see your pre-selected cells now have the indentation applied. Note that the data remains the same but the visual appearance is indented.

How to indent text in Google Sheets: Results

Apply to all cells in a column

Sometimes in Google Sheets we may need to apply an indentation to all cells in a column, to do this we can select an entire column by clicking on the column reference header at the top of the column. This will select all cells in the column.

How to indent text in Google Sheets: Full column selection

Then we can apply the custom number format to every cell in the entire column. Once the custom number format has been applied you will notice every cell in the specified column will have the indentation applied to it.

Increasing Indentation / Multiple Indent Levels in Google Sheets

We can increase or decrease our levels of indentation in Google Sheets by changing the amount of spaces placed before the @ symbol in the Custom number formats. Whenever we create an indentation Google Sheets saves this in the number menu accessed via the Format option from the top toolbar. This allows us to create multiple indentation levels.

Indent by Adding a Column in Google Sheets

In Google Sheets We can also add an indentation to our data by adding a column. This method requires splitting your list initially but becomes extremely manageable once completed as it uses the adjustment of column widths to increase or decrease indents allowing future data to automatically be indented as per the columns width.

To split a list we use multiple columns as can be seen in the below image. All items of the primary category in the first column and sub categories in the second column. Please remember to leave space in the first column for the items of the secondary column to move into.

Google Sheets indent cell: Split list

From the split list adjust the width of the first column by hovering your mouse between the two columns, the mouse cursor will change to the ↔ symbol, hold select and drag your column to the desired width. By doing this you will achieve indention by using columns in Google Sheets.

Google Sheets indent cell: Results


In this article we have covered the easiest method to add indentation to data including the  adjustment of the indentation amount and using multiple levels.

Did you also know that you can also create indentations by creating an indent option using a Google Apps Script? It is a bit complicated but if you would like to give it a try you can find all the instructions at this link:

We hope this article has helped you and given you a better understanding of how to indent in Google Sheets. You might also like our articles on how to highlight in Google Sheets and how to underline in Google Sheets.

To optimize your workflow, we recommend having a copy of our contact list template for Google Sheets.

Other Google Sheets Formatting Articles

-How to Strikethrough in Google Sheets


-How to Remove Gridlines in Google Sheets


-How to Underline in Google Sheets


-How to Hyperlink in Google Sheets


-How to Add Bullet Points in Google Sheets


-Google Sheets Dark Mode


-Add Line Break in Google Sheets


-Word Count in Google Sheets


-Color Every Other Row in Google Sheets

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