Font Formatting in Google Comments

Did you ever really, really, really want a student (or colleague) to understand your feedback on a portion of a Google Doc?  Well, my friend, I have got news for you.  Surround a word (or group of words) in a Google Docs (or Slides, Sheets, Drawings…) Comment with asterisks (*) and you’ve got bold text. 💥Boom💥 Surround them with underscores ( _ ) and you’ve got italicized text. 💥Boom💥

🤔❓Why does using the underscore lead to italicized text instead of underlined text!?  I have no idea.  Ask the Googs.❓🤔

Even more puzzling, there’s no option to create underlined text.  But hey, 3 minutes ago, you didn’t know about how to do bold or italics, so calm it down, buddy.

Here’s the real head-scratcher: some people seem to want strikethrough text in a comment.  🤷🏻‍♂️  Why?  I dunno.  But it’s possible.  Just surround your text with hyphens (-) and you’ve got strikethrough.  Medium-half-excited-don’t-know-why-anyone-wants-this-feature-💥Boom💥.  But again, 4 minutes ago, you were clueless that this was even within the realm of possibility, so turn your snark dial down, Francis.  Anyhow, here’s a GIF.  Please enjoy.

Formatting Font in Comments GIF

 

Dropdown List in Google Sheets

Did you know that you could add a dropdown list of options to a cell (or cells, plural) in Google Sheets?  This is nice for creating something like a “multiple-choice option,” but is also nice when you want to force your collaborators (or yourself!) to select from a specific list of choices.

It can be especially useful if you have formulas acting on that cell.  For example, if you were keeping track of a budget and wanted different things (i.e., adding versus subtracting) to happen if a row was marked as a deposit, purchase or interest.

Here’s an animated GIF about how to do it followed, as usual, by a list of the steps.

Sheets Dropdown Animation

Step 1: Click on the cell or cells that you plan to add the dropdown list to
Step 2: Right-click & select Data Validation
Step 3: In the dropdown by Criteria, select List of Items
Step 4: Type your options into the box, separating them with commas (I tend to alphabetize them)
Step 5: Click Save.

Translate in Google Sheets

Living in a new country where a different language is spoken is something that I can barely fathom. Doing it as a child just blows my mind. Our schools are often ill-equipped to support these kiddos, but they often do have one powerful tool that can help: compassionate teachers.

One of these compassionate teachers once came to me looking to create a tool to support an ELL (English Language Learner) student. His idea was to organize important English vocabulary words and their translations to the student’s native language into a spreadsheet. After he came to me with this idea, I started exploring options. What I discovered was really exciting! There’s a Google Translate formula in Google Sheets!

Enter a word in one language in a cell, and then use the formula =GoogleTranslate(text, source_language, target_language) in another cell to automagically translate it! You can even drag the fill handle at the bottom of the formula cell down to apply this formula to more than one cell.

This formula appears to work for all languages supported by Google Translate, of which there are more than 100! It even outputs the results with the correct letters and alphabet–not just our ABC English letters. You’ll just need to know the 2-letter code for the language, which you can find in this list.

Check out how to do it in the animation below!

Translate in Google Sheets Animation

Tab-Level Edit Rights in Google Sheets

In Episode 50 of the Google Teacher Tribe Podcast, Bailee Sandsmark, a 6th-grade middle school PE teacher, asked a Google Sheets question that got my gears turning.  All that gear turning inspired a new #EduGIF from me.  First, let’s look at her question:

I’d like to send out a Sheets template to all 250 of my students for them to individually track their fitness testing data, but then I would like to have an efficient way for them to share that info with me so that I can see all of my students’ data in one sheet. Having to access 250 different sheets makes my head spin…

While Matt & Kasey had a handful of good ideas of their own, I had another one that I wanted to share.  It came from a thought that Matt shared: it’d be nice to give each student a tab in one spreadsheet, but then each student could edit the others’ tabs.  That’s where “tab-level permissions” comes into play.  If you click on the tabs at the bottom of your Google Sheet, there’s a Protect Sheet option.  It’s also accessible from under Tools.  As you’ll see in the Animated GIF below, you can use this to give tab-level edit rights to specific students.

Before we get the GIF, a few notes:

  • If each tab will be identical, you can duplicate the tabs.
  • If you’d like to create a tab for each of your students, you can use Alice Keeler’s Template Tab add-on.
  • You can also use this to give or limit edit access for just specific cells – I do this sometimes to make sure no one messes up formulas that I have running.
  • In Bailee’s, situation, she’ll still have the issue that each student can see their classmate’s information (even though they can’t edit it).  To prevent this, you could give them code names or numbers.
  • The tabs that we’re referring to are technically called sheets, but I think that’s super confusing that the individual parts of Google Sheets are Sheets.  What!?

And finally, the GIF:

Tab-Level Edit Rights in Google Sheets Animation

Paint Roller Tool in Google Sheets

I’m a big fan of the Paint Roller (Paint Format) tool in the gSuite platform.  I’ve posted before about using it in Google Docs, as well as in Google Slides.  I probably use it most often, though, in Google Sheets.  I love a nice, organized Google Sheet and this tool helps a lot with that.  My favorite part about it is that it even applies to number formatting (i.e., decimal places, date format, currency, etc.).  Check it out in the animated GIF below!

Paint Format in Google Sheets Animation

Show All Comments in Google Sheets

The ability to comment on cells in Google Sheets is super useful.  The ability to find those comments, however . . . pretty stinkin’ difficult.  That little yellow triangle in the corner just ain’t cutting it.  In a big spreadsheet, it can be easy to miss some comments.

You can show all of the comments in the currently open spreadsheet tab by either hovering over or clicking on the comments icon on the sheet tab at the bottom.  Clicking keeps them open while you move your mouse around or scroll.  If you hover, the comments are hidden again as soon as you move your mouse.

Show All Comments in Google Sheets Animation

CopyDown Add-On

Years ago, as a STEM teacher, I had my students build basswood bridges.  We’d then test them by hanging weights from them.  I’d submit the results to a Google Form, which would kick it to a Google Spreadsheet, where a formula was all set up to calculate the “Engineering Efficiency” (a measure that leveled the playing field between heavy, strong bridges and light, strong bridges).  Unfortunately, formulas don’t automatically apply to the new rows created by new Form Submissions. I had to have a student manually drag the formula down each time a new result was submitted.

Enter the CopyDown Add-On

I later discovered this wonderful little add-on.  It automatically pulls that formula down to a each new form submission.  No manual dragging necessary.  This is super, super useful when your Form & Sheet are part of a bigger system that triggers other actions in other add-ons (i.e., autoCrat, formMule) that require those formulas.

Here’s a GIF of how it works, followed by a step-by-step guide to using it:

CopyDown Add-On Animation

  1. Set up your Google Form.
  2. Open up the connected Spreadsheet.
  3. Start with an initial form submission.  You’ll need this in the next step.
  4. Create your formulas in Row 2 (the row with your first submission).
  5. Click Add-Ons and follow the steps to add CopyDown.
  6. Click Add-Ons > CopyDown > CopyDown Settings.
  7. Flip the switch to “On.”
  8. Generally, I select to paste the results “as values” (otherwise it puts the formula itself into each cell which, if it’s a lengthy spreadsheet, will ultimately slow it down).
  9. Save Settings.
  10. Start gathering form submissions!

How Many Hot Dog Topping Combinations?

It was 6:12 PM EST.  We were eating dinner on our deck.  My sister messaged me.  She had a very important question.  Her and her colleagues were in a heated debate.  Just how many topping combinations were there at Cleveland’s fun hot dog restaurants Happy Dog?  I know, right?  This is a big deal.  Could I swoop in and save the day?  Yes.  Er, well, with the help of my trusty sidekick Google Sheets I could.  (Excel would have worked, but what if I need to access the calculations on the go?  or share them?  Yup, I made the right choice.  gSuite’s trusted cloud-based spreadsheet is the way to go here.)

So, I got the details.  There are 50 toppings possible.  No limits (you can do all 50, as my oldest son might choose) or minimums (0 toppings, as my youngest son prefers them, counts too).  Variations on the dog (veggie?  black bean!?) or bun (bleck, wheat?) were to be ignored.

I set right to it.  I picked a trusty Google Sheets formula – Combin – and got to work.  That formula deals with a common mathematics formula that finds the number of combinations of something.  You need only know two things – how many possible things and how many are to be chosen (i.e., 50 toppings choose 1, 50 toppings choose 2, etc.).  Now, don’t get this mixed up with permutations where order matters, because no one cares if you go peanut butter, sriracha, alien relish or alien relish, peanut butter, sriracha or … well … you get it.

COMBIN(nk) where n is the size of the pool of objects to choose from and k is the number of objects to choose.

The rest is history.  Check it out in the GIF below.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to tell you the answer: 1,125,899,906,842,620 – one quadrillion, one hundred twenty-five trillion, eight hundred ninety-nine billion, nine hundred six million, eight hundred forty-two thousand, six hundred twenty combinations.

Side note to math teachers: I love how the numbers are symmetrical (i.e., there are 1,225 different 2-topping dogs and 1,225 different 48-topping dogs).  Could be a great discussion with math students.

Now, here’s how I did it:

Happy Dog Combinations Animations

Concat, Concatenate and &

Nope.  They have nothing to do with cats.  Sorry.  If you’re here for the cat memes, you’re going to have to look elsewhere.

They are two Google Sheets formulas that are very useful if you’re organizing information in Google Sheets.  Have first names in one column and last names in another, but need them combined?  Concat has your back.  Have a student’s grade number, but need it to be written out (7th grade instead of just 7) for a mail merge?  Concat is here to help.

Need to combine more than 2 things?  i.e., first, middle & last name?  Concatenate can help you out.  It’s the same as Concat but it works for more than 2 items.

The & operator can perform the same tasks.  It’s all personal preference.

Some tips are listed below the GIF.

Concat & Concatenate Animation

  • Basic format: =CONCAT(first thing, second thing)
    • =CONCATENATE(first thing, second thing, third thing, fourth thing….)
    • =first thing & second thing & third thing
  • The items in the formula can be cell references like here: =CONCAT(A1, B1)
  • The items in the formula can be regular text, just use quotation marks: =CONCAT(“me”, “ow)”.
  • When combining text strings, it puts them together with nothing in between them, so if you want a space, you’ll have to add it yourself – use ” ” if needed – the space is held between those quotation marks.

FormRanger Add-On

I love me some Add-Ons. One of my favorites is FormRanger from New Visions Cloud Lab. It can be used to pull in a column of information from a Google Sheet as multiple choice or dropdown options.

This is nice for quickly creating a lot of options for a multiple choice or dropdown question, but what takes it from nice to awesome is  . . . you can set it to automatically update based on changes made to the spreadsheet. Whaaaaat!?  I know, right?

There are two main cases for use: Continue reading FormRanger Add-On