Google Sheets – How To Strike-through or Cross Out Text 

Dave | November 14, 2022 |

If you want to use Google Sheets to keep lists, one of the most useful types of formatting you can use is Strike-through text. If you write a list on paper, what’s the first thing you do when you complete an item? Cross it off the list. If you’re writing a text and you make a mistake or want to cross something out but NOT remove it from the text, what do you do? Strike it through or cross it out. Luckily, you can easily do this in Google Sheets and we’re going to show you a few ways that make it easy.

What is strike-through formatting in Google Sheets?

Strike-through formatting is a type of formatting for text in Google Sheets that allows you to draw a single line through the centre of your text and make it appear struck through, or crossed out. Here’s an example of a list with 3 items formatted with strike-through text and showing as crossed out.

A list of 4 items with the top 3 showing a crossed out using strike-through text in Google Sheets
Strike-through formatting

4 ways to strike-through, or cross out text in Google Sheets

So how do you apply strike-through formatting? Here are 4 ways.

Using the Format menu

The option to Strike-through text in Google Sheets are found in the main menu under Format > Text. Select any cells you first want to strike through by clicking on them or dragging to add them to your selection, then click this option to apply the formatting.

The Google Sheets, Format > Text menu showing the Strike-through option.
The Format > Text menu in Google Sheets

Using menus is a pretty slow way of doing common tasks in Sheets. If you’re crossing items off a list regularly, you’ll want a quicker way of being able to do this.

Using the Toolbar

If you look at the Google Sheets toolbar, you can see that there is a dedicated button that allows quick application of Strike-through formatting. Select the cells you want formatted and click this button to cross the text out in those cells.

Google Sheets the strike-through toolbar button
Strike-through toolbar button

Whilst the toolbar is handy, for those of us that are pretty hands on and quick on a keyboard, nothing is quicker than a keyboard shortcut.

Strike-through keyboard shortcut

The keyboard shortcut for Strike-through formatting in Google Sheets is Alt + Shift + 5 (Windows, Chrome OS) or Option + Shift + 5 (Mac).

Paint Format

There’s one more way you can apply strike-through formatting to a cell or a bunch of cells pretty quickly. It’s a feature of Google Sheets that once you’ve discovered you might never stop using. I use it all the time.

Let’s say you want to format your to list to make unfinished items stand out more with bold unfinished items and un-bolded and strike-through formatting for finished ones, like this:

An exmaple Google Sheets list with bold unfinished and strike-through finished items
A more stand-out list

To cross items of this list you’ll need to un-bold them AND apply strike-through formatting. But there’s a quick way of being able to do that. Click on a cell that has the formatting you want applied (‘Apples’ in this case) and then click on Paint Format. Your cursor is now loaded with the styles from the ‘Apples’ cell. The next cell or cells you select will automatically have the styles from the ‘Apples’ cell applied to them. So, for crossing off ‘Lemons’ we’d click ‘Applies’, Paint Format, and then click on the ‘Lemons’ cell. Simple!

Using paint format to quickly cross-off list items that are finished and formatted differently
Paint-format is a quick way to tick off items

How do you remove strike-through formatting?

There are a few ways you can remove formatting from cells in Google Sheets. Applying strike-through formatting to a cell that already has strike-through formatting applied will remove it. You can do this with the Format menu, the strike-through Toolbar button or by using the keyboard shortcut Alt + Shift + 5 (Windows, Chrome OS) or Option + Shift + 5 (Mac).

You could also copy formatting from a cell containing un-crossed off items using Paint Format. To do this, select a cell that has no strike-through formatting applied, click Paint Format and then click on the destination cell, and that cell will then have the styles from the source cell applied.

Finally, for those of us with quick fingers, a really useful keyboard shortcut to know in Sheets is the one to remove all formatting from a cell: Ctrl + \ (Windows, ChromeOS) or + \ (Mac). As these keys are really close together, it’s pretty quick and easy to remove any formatting from your selected cells this way. But it’s only useful if you want to remove ALL the formatting and not just the strike-through.

Can you put a line through a CELL in Google Sheets?

Whilst you can cross out text in a cell using strike-through formatting, there is no way of crossing out a cell without resorting to workarounds. Borders and border formatting only allow you to add line to the edges of a cell. To really add a line through an entire cell, you need to use a drawing.

Go to the Insert menu and insert a Drawing. Select a line from the drawing canvas that appears, draw a line and select the formatting and color you want from the menu. When you select Save and Close from the drawing pop-up, you’ll see your line appears in your Google Sheet and floats above the existing data and cells. You can select the line and move it anywhere you like, including over the top of a cell you want to be crossed out.

A line through a cell in Google Sheets using a drawing.
A line through a cell

Whilst this isn’t really an ideal or quick solution for maintaining or crossing off items from a list in Google Sheets, it will work where you need to format something in a more precise way for a presentation or a printed document.


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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