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How do I automatically color rows in sheets?

Color coding rows in Google Sheets can help organize and differentiate data. While formatting rows manually is simple enough, it can become tedious with large spreadsheets. Luckily, there are several ways to automatically color rows based on criteria you specify.

Using conditional formatting

The easiest way to automatically color rows is by using conditional formatting. This allows you to set rules that will color the rows for you based on the data contained in them.

Here are the steps to set up conditional formatting to color rows:

  1. Select the rows you want to apply conditional formatting to. You can select the entire sheet if you want all rows to potentially change color.
  2. Click Format > Conditional formatting from the menu.
  3. In the menu that appears, click the drop down and select Custom formula.
  4. Enter a formula that defines the condition to check each row against. Some examples:
    • =MOD(ROW(),2)=0 – Color every other row
    • =A1>50 – Color rows where the value in column A is greater than 50
    • =B1="Complete" – Color rows where column B equals “Complete”
  5. Click the Format button and select the fill color to apply to rows matching the condition.
  6. Click Done to complete setup.

Now try entering data – the conditional formatting should automatically color the rows matching your rules!

Using Google Apps Script

For more advanced automatic coloring, you can use Google Apps Script. This involves writing a custom script that programmatically checks row data and applies colors.

Here is an example script that colors alternative rows and rows based on a column value:

function colorRows() {

  var sheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSheet();

  // Color every other row
  for (var i = 1; i 

To use a custom function like this:

  1. Open the script editor from Tools > Script editor
  2. Copy the code into a new script file
  3. Save the project
  4. Return to the sheet and reload to apply the bound script
  5. Call the colorRows function from the menu under Add-ons

This will execute the code and automatically color the rows. You can bind the function to a button to rerun it whenever needed.

Using add-ons

There are also Google Sheets add-ons available that provide customized row coloring functionality:

Add-on Features
Sheetgo Theme Colors - Apply colors from color palette to rows
- Set rules based on formula
- Randomly color rows
ColorCell - Color cells or rows based on input range
- Control themes and formatting
Row Colorer - Choose row elements and colors
- Set alternating row colors
- Add colors to specific rows

The advantage of using add-ons is they provide an easy to use interface without needing to write scripts yourself. Just install, configure the options, and the add-on will take care of coloring the rows automatically.

Using Zapier

You can also automatically color rows by integrating Google Sheets with Zapier. This allows you to connect your spreadsheet to external apps and services.

For example, you could set up a Zap that colors a row green when a new form response is submitted, or color a row red when a task in your project management app is overdue.

The steps to set up a Zap to color rows are:

  1. Choose a trigger app - this is the external event that will activate the Zap.
  2. Configure the trigger, like new form entry or task marked overdue.
  3. Choose the Google Sheets action to color a row.
  4. Configure the sheet and range to color.
  5. Set the color, like red or green.
  6. Turn on the Zap to activate it.

Now the Zap will monitor for the trigger event and automatically color the linked row in your spreadsheet.


Automatically color coding rows in Google Sheets can save time and make your data more organized and readable. There are a few handy ways to accomplish this including conditional formatting, Google Apps Scripts, add-ons, and Zapier.

The best method depends on your specific needs. Simple alternating row colors work great with conditional formatting. For more advanced logic, try a custom script or add-on. And integrate with Zapier to color based on external events and services.

Color coding your sheet rows requires just a bit of setup. But once in place, it takes spreadsheets from dry and dull to visual and informative!