Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

For Goodness Sake Only Put In Once in Google Sheets

The Rule of One! Only Put In Once in Google Sheets!! Here is how to handle if you need something twice or more in a spreadsheet.
For Goodness Sake Only Put In Once in Google Sheets

A firm rule when using Google Sheets spreadsheets (or Excel)… you only input information ONCE! If you have a roster of students’ names, do not type them in again ever. You put the name into the spreadsheet ONCE. Only Put In Once in Google Sheets. Even if you need it on multiple sheets.

Tracking Across Sheets

Let’s say you have a spreadsheet where on each tab you are tracking different things about each student. Attendance on one sheet, behavior tracking on another, materials check out on a third. This requires each student’s name on each of the sheets.

Equals Sign

The easiest spreadsheet formula is simply an equals sign. When you want to have a value, such as a student’s name, a second time in the spreadsheet press the equals key in the cell you want the value to show up again.

Cell Reference

After the equals sign, click on the cell that contains the original value. This is known as cell referencing. You REFERENCE the cell instead of retyping the value.

Press ENTER after the cell reference.

Roster of student names. Put an equals sign in cell D2 and press on A2 and press enter to have the name show up. In D6 an equals sign and clicking on A6 and pressing enter puts the student name into column D. In D8 an equals sign and A8. Changing the value in A8 to Alice also changes the value in D8. Only Put In Once in Google Sheets

Only Put In Once in Google Sheets

The advantage to using cell referencing is when you update the original value, any references will update.

Across Sheets

Even if you have multiple sheets in your spreadsheet you should only put in once in Google Sheets. On a different sheet type an equals sign and click on the original sheet.


The roster on the 2nd sheet. Start with an equals sign in A1 and then click on the first sheet puts in the formula =roster!A1 press enter and it appears on the 2nd sheet.

Absolute Cell Reference

ABSOLUTELY we only put information into a spreadsheet once. In the case of the roster there is a list of names in A2, A3, A4, etc… the next name moves.

But what if there was no “next.”

When the value is only in one place use ABSOLUTE CELL REFERENCING. This locks down the location to always be in the same place.


The dollar sign locks down the row and column.

Keyboard Shortcut

Who doesn’t love a good keyboard shortcut?

Single click on the cell and press F4

The F4 key will automatically add the dollar signs for you. This is a huge time saver. If you are on a Mac you may need to hold down the Fn key to access the F4 key.

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