How to (Easily) Make Perfect Content Calendars in Google Sheets
What do you use spreadsheets for? If you're anything like me, you likely use them to collect data, track campaign or blog post analytics, or keep track of weekly assignments. But have you ever thought about using spreadsheets to make a calendar? If not, let me tell you why Google Sheets is the perfect tool for your content calendar.
What do you use spreadsheets for? If you're anything like me, you likely use them to collect data, track campaign or blog post analytics, or keep track of weekly assignments.
But have you ever thought about using spreadsheets to make a calendar? If not, let me tell you why Google Sheets is the perfect tool for your content calendar.
If you often work on campaigns for a few different clients, creating individual calendars in Google Sheets could be uniquely useful for ensuring the client understands when certain content will go live. Alternatively, perhaps you need to create an internal Google Sheet calendar for your team to keep track of upcoming projects.
Making a calendar in a tool that's commonly used for spreadsheets sounds a little intimidating, but don't worry, the process is actually pretty intuitive. And with the help of some tips, you can easily make a functional calendar that you can sync your schedule with.
Below, we'll go over how to make a calendar in Google Sheets and include some tips that'll help you elevate the design. At the end, your calendar will look something like this:
Open up Google Sheets and get ready to create your very own calendar. ????
1. Open a new spreadsheet and choose your month.
First, open a new spreadsheet.
Then, choose your month. For this example, I did January [YYYY], so I filled that into the first cell. What's great about Google Sheets is that it automatically recognizes dates, so typing in a month, followed by the year in YYYY format will tell Google that you're going to be working with dates.
2. Begin to format your calendar.
Next, format your calendar. I selected the text, January [YYYY], in Column A, Row 1. I highlighted seven columns (A-G), and clicked Merge to make that cell span across the entire column. You can find this button to the right of the Fill tool.
Here, I also center-aligned my text using the tool next to Merge. Later on, I’ll increase the font size and bold the month.
3. Use a formula to fill in the days of the week.
Next, fill in the days of the week in each column (A-G). You can do this manually but I decided to use a formula. Sheets has a function that lets you type in formulas to complete certain actions at once.
To fill in days of the week, in the cell where you want your first weekday to be, type: =TEXT(1, "DDDD"). What this tells Google is that your number will be replaced by a date or time and the format you're using is weekdays.
Highlight the number 1 in the formula and replace it with: COLUMN(). Then, press enter and select your first day. You're going to copy the formula in Sunday's cell by dragging the selector to the end of your row, (A-G), and pressing enter again.
Pressing enter should automatically fill in the rest of the week. Remember, if this doesn't work for you, you can always fill in the days manually.
4. Fill in the numbers.
Excellent! You have your days of the week. Now we're going to fill in the numerical values. Before this step, I took the time to add color to the days row and changed the font to one I liked a little more.
For the numerical values, we’ll simply identify the first day of the month and click and drag to fill in the rest.
Place the number 1 on the box right underneath the first day of the month, then click and drag horizontally. Depending on the day of the week, you may need to follow this process using the second day of the month so you can click and drag horizontally.
For this example, we’ll use Sunday as the first day of the month, but remember that the first day will vary from year to year.
5. Fill in the rest of the numbers.
Note: In this step, I filled in the calendar numbers every other row to help with my formatting later.
Now that you’ve filled out your first row, it’s time to fill in the rest. Manually insert the next number, then click and drag horizontally to fill in the rest.
Repeat the process for the next rows. You’ll insert the first number manually, then click and drag down the row. Here’s what that looks like for the next row in January.
Note: Make sure to end the month on the right number! For January, that would be the 31st.
6. Reformat your calendar if necessary.
Everything is starting to look like a calendar, right? At this stage, I reformatted things to clean up the look of my calendar a little.
Remember those extra rows in between the numbered rows? I expanded those rows to create boxes underneath the numbers. To do this, I simply dragged the rows down to make those cells bigger.
Here are some additional formatting tips:
- Select the empty rows underneath your numbers and center them using the center text alignment tool.
- Select your entire calendar and vertically align all elements so that they’re in the center of their cells. To do this, use the vertical alignment tool.
- Bold your day numbers.
- If desired, lightly shade your numbered rows.
- If desired, gray out the Saturday and Sunday columns so that your workdays stand out.
7. Add design elements to professionalize the look.
Finally, you can add in some fun design elements to personalize the look and feel of your calendar. If it's for a client or upcoming project, you'll want to incorporate the necessary launch days here.
For this step, I added in a few fun images, included a few hypothetical calendar events, and played with font sizes.
8. Repeat the process from February to December.
It’s time to repeat for the month of February to December. Simply duplicate your January calendar once you’ve designed it how you want it to look. To do this, right-click the sheet’s tab and select Duplicate from the menu.
To fill in the numbers, you’ll only need to know the beginning day, then click and drag to fill in the rest of the rows. Here are the first days for every month for the year 2023:
- January: Sunday
- February: Wednesday
- March: Wednesday
- April: Saturday
- May: Monday
- June: Thursday
- July: Saturday
- August: Tuesday
- September: Friday
- October: Sunday
- November: Wednesday
- December: Friday
Next, you’ll want to know how many days you’ll need to fill in. Here are the number of days you’ll need for each month:
- January: 31
- February: 28 or 29
- March: 31
- April: 30
- May: 31
- June: 30
- July: 31
- August: 31
- September: 30
- October: 31
- November: 30
- December: 31
And then, you're done!
It's handy to use Sheets because you can open your calendar right on your browser. You can also keep track of your schedule in a place that's separate from your phone.
If you don’t have the time or the patience to create a calendar from scratch, below are two additional methods.
How to Make a Calendar Using a Google Sheets Template
Google Sheets provides a built-in template for calendar-making. The only downside is that customization options are limited — you can only use Google Sheets’ themes. That said, this is an excellent option if you’re in a hurry.
1. Go to sheets.google.com.
Ensure you’re logged into your Google account, or log in when prompted. This will take you directly to the Sheets home page, where you can access the templates.
Alternatively, go to drive.google.com, tap New, click the right-hand arrow next to Google Sheets, and tap From a template.
2. Access the template gallery.
If you accessed the Google Sheets templates via Google Drive, you won’t need to take this step.
Otherwise, in the top banner titled Start a new spreadsheet, tap Template gallery.
3. Find the annual calendar template.
Templates are divided by categories such as “Work” and “Project management.” Scroll down until you reach the Personal section, then tap Annual Calendar.
4. Change the formatting as needed.
All done! Your calendar has been created. Next, it’s time to change the formatting using Google Sheets’ available themes. You can also change the fonts as you’d prefer.
An alternative option to using Google Sheets’ built-in template is using third-party templates, which would allow you to create important business documents such as social and editorial calendars. Below, I share several templates that are perfect for the task.
Google Sheets Calendar Templates
Good news: You’re not just limited to Google Sheets’ single built-in template. If you need a more functional annual calendar, I’ve got you covered with the options below.
1. Free Editorial Calendar Template for Google Sheets
This editorial calendar template is designed for Google Sheets and covers all of your editorial planning needs. With this template, you can lay out a strong editorial strategy on a daily and monthly basis in one accessible, scannable sheet.
Designed for utmost usability and readability, it includes a vertical layout for the dates, as well as columns where you can add details such as the Author, Topic, Content Details, and Keywords.
A vertical, year-long design like this one can also be used for other efforts, such as professional and personal goals. You can change the columns as need be to fit your and your team’s objectives for the upcoming year.
2. Free Spreadsheet Social Media Content Calendar Template
This Excel-based social media calendar template is ideal for marketers who’d like to build a strong social strategy for the upcoming year. The best part? It comes bundled with a user guide for those who are new to social media strategy planning.
If you already have a social plan, you can also use this calendar for any multi-channel effort, such as content marketing across multiple platforms and guest blogging on different publishers’ websites. Simply change the titles on the tabs to fit your goals.
This template can easily be converted into a Google Sheets document. To upload it into Google Drive, simply head to drive.google.com and drag the file from your file explorer into your list of Google Drive documents.
Alternatively, head to sheets.new to create a new Google Sheets spreadsheet. Then, click File > Import > Upload. There, you’ll be able to import the Excel file with no loss in quality.
3. General Calendar Templates for Google Sheets
In need of a general Google Sheets calendar template? Check out these resources:
- Spreadsheet Class: Provides a premade, easy-to-use template that’s similar to the one we created from scratch. You’ll need to change the colors and fonts to your liking.
- Smartsheet: Provides several premade Google Sheets calendar templates with a more corporate color scheme.
Use a Google Sheets Calendar to Organize Your Tasks
If you're handy with Sheets and want to give it a shot, create a Google Sheets calendar. It’s a great option if you need to create a clean calendar to track an internal marketing campaign, organize a client's upcoming projects, or share an event calendar with key stakeholders. But if you don’t want to create one from scratch, use our editorial calendar template to jumpstart your planning and organization efforts immediately.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in May 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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