How to Highlight Every Other Row in Google Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Highlighting every other row on Google Sheets is all about making your data visually easier to follow. At a glance, you can distinguish between rows, which is especially helpful with large datasets. By using conditional formatting, you can automate this process and save yourself a lot of time.

After you’ve completed the action, your Google Sheets document will have alternating highlighted rows, enhancing readability and making your data look well-organized and professional.


Imagine trying to read through a dense and endless sea of data with no visual breaks – it’s enough to make anyone’s eyes glaze over! That’s where the power of highlighting every other row, also known as “zebra striping,” comes into play. It’s not just about aesthetics; it’s about functionality. Utilizing Google Sheets to organize data is a common practice, whether you are a student tracking research, a small business owner managing inventory, or an analyst presenting findings.

However, without proper formatting, data can become a jumbled mess, making it hard to track information accurately. Highlighting alternate rows can significantly enhance the legibility of your data, reducing errors and increasing efficiency. Plus, it’s a skill that’s sure to impress your colleagues and superiors. So, let’s dive in and make your Google Sheets data pop!

Step by Step Tutorial: Highlighting Every Other Row on Google Sheets

Before we begin, know that we will be using a feature called “Conditional Formatting.” This feature allows you to set specific conditions for cell formatting.

Step 1: Select the Range of Cells

Click and drag to select the cells you want to format.

It’s important to start with the first cell in the row and drag down to cover all the rows you want to highlight. This sets the range for your formatting.

Step 2: Click Format, Then Conditional Formatting

Go to the “Format” menu and select “Conditional Formatting.”

The “Conditional Formatting” sidebar will appear on the right side of your screen, where you can set your formatting rules.

Step 3: Set the Format Rules

Under the “Format cells if” drop-down menu, select “Custom formula is.”

In the custom formula field, type “=ISEVEN(ROW())” to highlight even rows, or “=ISODD(ROW())” to highlight odd rows. This formula checks the row number and applies the formatting based on whether the result is even or odd.

Step 4: Set the Formatting Style

In the “Formatting style” section, click the fill color button and choose your desired color.

This is the fun part where you can personalize your sheet. You can adjust the text color too if needed, but make sure it contrasts well with your fill color for readability.

Step 5: Click Done

After setting up your custom formula and selecting your formatting style, click “Done.”

Now, marvel at your well-organized Google Sheets, complete with every other row highlighted for maximum readability.


Enhanced ReadabilityAlternating row colors break up the data, making it easier to follow along a row without losing your place.
Time EfficiencyOnce set up, conditional formatting automatically updates as you add more rows, saving you time on manual formatting.
Error ReductionA clear visual distinction between rows can help reduce data entry errors, as it’s easier to focus on specific information without getting lost in a sea of numbers or text.


Limited by ConditionsIf your conditions aren’t set correctly, it could lead to uneven highlighting or rows being missed.
Potentially DistractingIf overused or colors are too bright, it could become visually overwhelming rather than helpful.
Compatibility IssuesWhen exporting Google Sheets to other file formats, like Excel, the conditional formatting might not always transfer correctly.

Additional Information

While the steps above cover the basics of highlighting every other row, there are a few tips and tricks that can elevate your Google Sheets game even further. For instance, if you need to highlight a different pattern of rows, you can adjust the custom formula to fit your needs. Want to highlight every third row? No problem! Just tweak the formula to “=MOD(ROW(),3)=0”. Or maybe you’re dealing with data that doesn’t start on the first row of your sheet. In that case, you’d need to adjust your formula to take into account the starting row number.

And don’t forget, while we focused on rows, this same method can be applied to columns too. Just substitute “ROW()” with “COLUMN()” in your formula. The possibilities are endless and can be tailored to fit precisely what your data requires. So go ahead and experiment with different patterns and styles to find the perfect fit for your Google Sheets!


  1. Select the range of cells.
  2. Click Format, then Conditional Formatting.
  3. Set the format rules with a custom formula.
  4. Set the formatting style.
  5. Click Done.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I want to highlight a different pattern of rows?

You can modify the custom formula to suit other patterns, such as “=MOD(ROW(),3)=0” for every third row.

Can I use this method to highlight columns as well?

Absolutely, just replace “ROW()” with “COLUMN()” in the formula.

Will the highlighting adjust automatically if I add more rows?

Yes, conditional formatting automatically applies to new rows within the selected range.

Is it possible to apply multiple conditional formatting rules to the same range?

Yes, you can add multiple rules, but be mindful of the order as they are applied top to bottom.

Can I highlight rows based on cell values?

Yes, conditional formatting allows you to set rules based on cell values, so you can highlight rows containing certain numbers or text.


In the world of data, clarity is king, and highlighting every other row on Google Sheets is like giving your data a crown. It’s a simple yet powerful tool that can transform your sheets from a bland data dump to a clear-cut, professional-looking document. Remember, the key to success lies in the details – and this specific detail could make all the difference in how you, and others, interact with your data.

So, take the time to master the art of zebra striping: it’s one of those small efforts that yields significant rewards. Whether you’re a spreadsheet novice or a seasoned pro, I hope this guide has given you the confidence to step up your Google Sheets game and make your data shine!