Does Google Sheets have Cell Padding?

Dave | November 16, 2022 |

If you’re looking for cell-padding in Google Sheets then you are out of luck. Cell padding isn’t a feature of Sheets (or Microsoft Excel 365 in a browser either FYI). Why? I’m guessing it’s a technical thing that’s hard to implement and is something that is rarely needed in a spreadsheet. Maybe they’ve just not gotten around to it yet.

You can alter the cell padding on a table in a Google Document. So if you really need that feature for printing or display purposes, you could put your sheets data in one of those.

You can indent the text in a Google Sheet. There’s a quick and easy way using a custom number format we covered previously. This only allows you to indent the text from the left side. But it’s easy, quick and persists through changing data values. Check that out if all you really need is indenting.

Cell padding with a custom number format
Cell padding with a custom number format

The closest you can get to padded cells in Google Sheets is to simulate them by using horizontal and vertical alignments.

How to simulate cell padding with horizontal and vertical alignment and cell sizes

If you check out the Format > Alignment menu, you can see that there are options to align text horizontally to the Left, Centre, and Right of the cell. There are also options for Top, Middle, and Bottom vertical alignment.

Google Sheets Format > Alignment menu options
Left, Centre, Right, Top, Middle and Bottom text alignments are available

You can use these to shift text around inside your cell so that it aligns in any way you choose. Here are some example cells with differing alignments.

Examples of all Horizontal and Vertical cell alignments
Horizontal and Vertical cell alignments

By default, any new cell that you type into will be Left and Bottom aligned. Left Bottom in the examples above. If you look at the cells with Center Middle alignment, you can see that’s the one that looks like it has an even cell padding all around. The larger you make the the column or row for that cell, the bigger the padding will appear.

Large cells with middle center alignment
Large cells with middle center alignment

It’s easy to resize any cell or row. You need to put your cursor over the separating line at the edge of the column or row on the column or row headings. It will turn into a sizing cursor and you can then drag to make columns or rows larger or smaller.

How to re-size columns and rows

How do you add padding with a spacer in Google Sheets?

To pad a cell using a spacer in Google Sheets requires you to either type spaces in front of the data in the cell or use a Custom number format to add them automatically.

To add a Custom number format, use the Format > Number > Custom number format option in the menu, and enter " @" that’s SPACE+SPACE+SPACE+@ into the custom number format box and then click Apply. You will end up with cells that have a left padding of 3 spaces like this.

Simulated padding with a custom number format
Custom number format spacer left padding

I'm a Google Product Expert and mainly post on the subject of Google Sheets.

I've been a software engineer for over 20 years. The constant through all that time? Spreadheets.... Even though I can write programs I use them.... a lot. Sometimes there's just no better alternative!

Find out more about me here.

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