How to Remove Underlines in Google Sheets

Dave | November 11, 2022 |

There is no Underline button on the toolbar in Google Sheets, so you might well get stuck trying to remove some pesky underlines on text in cells or even cells themselves that are underlined. I’m going to show you several ways to remove that formatting and introduce you to some features you may not have used before.

Spoiler: If you just need to get it done, the quickest and easiest method is simply to select the cell and click CTRL+U (Win, ChromeOS), +U (Mac).

Removing underlines with the format menu

Google Docs have a specific Underline button in the toolbar, but one thing you might have noticed about Google Sheets is that the Underline button is not present. 

Google Docs has an underline button in the toolbar
Google Docs Toolbar – Underline
Google Sheets toolbar - no underline option
Google Sheets Toolbar – No Underline

Why is this? I’m guessing underlining isn’t a commonly used thing in spreadsheets. That might be why you’re here reading this. No button, what do I do?

Whilst there’s no underline toolbar button, there IS an underline option in the Format menu. First, select the cell you want to underline, and then format it with an underline by clicking Format > Text > Underline. Shown below.

The format text menu
The format text menu in Google Sheets

Keyboard shortcuts for removing underlines

Assuming you’re able to use one and are fairly dextrous, the more and more you use computers, the more you come to realize that keyboard shortcuts are simply the fastest way to get things done. So to remove underlines from text in a cell, an entire row of text or column of text, or even an entire selected spreadsheet, all you need is:

CTRL+U (Win, ChromeOS), +U (Mac)

On a selected cell with all the text underlined, CTRL+U will remove the underlining.
On a selected cell with only some of the text underlined, CTRL+U will underline ALL the words. Hit it twice and it will remove the underlining.

Removing underlines from a selected group of cells

If you drag and select a group of cells in which some are underlined and some are not (as in the picture below), what will happen when you use the format menu or the keyboard shortcut for ‘Underline’? Will it add or remove the underline and how do you know? 

A selected group of cells, primary cell is not underlined
What will Underline do here?

The answer to this is that when you drag to select a group of cells, one cell is always the primary cell (the first one you select) and they show it above as the top left cell in the group selected. If you’d dragged from the bottom right to the top left, then the bottom right cell would have been the primary cell. Because the primary selected cell has no underline, hitting CTRL+U will underline ALL the cells in this selection.

What’s going to happen when we ‘Underline’ these cells?

A selected group of cells, primary cell is underlined
What will happen here when we Underline?

Yep, that’s right, the primary cell is underlined so we will remove underlining from ALL the selected cells.

Using ‘Paint Format’ to remove underlines.

Have you seen this button in the toolbar?

Paint Format
Paint Format

Paint Format is one of the most useful tools available in Google Sheets and Google Docs and one you should learn how to use. Paint Format simply copies the formatting of a selected cell and lets you paint that formatting over any destination cells you choose. This just copies formatting, (i.e. underlines, bolding, highlight color, borders etc) and does not copy the actual cell values.

So select an empty cell, or one containing text that isn’t underlined by clicking on it. Then click on ‘Paint Format‘. You are now primed to paint that format anywhere you like. You paint a format by simply selecting the destination cell. Click on a cell that is currently underlined, or drag over a chunk of them and ‘poof’ the underlining is gone.

Copying a format like this can be used to significant effect for things like heading rows. Just setup one cell with the color and formatting you like (bold, italics, underlined, font size 18), then you can copy that formatting to any other cells in the header row by just using paint format. Useful right?

How to remove a partial underline from a word in a cell

You might come across a cell that just has a single word underlined.

Cell with a partial underline

Often the quickest way to remove this underlining is to click on the cell and hit the CTRL+U shortcut twice. Once to underline it all and once more to remove that underline.

That’s : CTRL+U (Win, ChromeOS), +U (Mac) TWICE.

You might come across a cell that has 2 separate words underlined. If that’s the case to remove both the underlines, repeat the trick above CTRL+U and CTRL+U again. If you only want to remove one underline, you need to select the particular word you want underlines removing from by double clicking on the cell so that it shows as selected below. Then double click the individual word, or drag to select the word so that it shows in blue (as below).

Once you have the word selected, it’s simply a case of CTRL+U to remove (or add) the underline!

Cell with two word partial underline

So, now you know. One shortcut to rule them all, and all the ways to use it. Happy underlining. I hope you have learned something.


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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