Google Sheets – Create a double underline bottom border

Lots of spreadsheet users can’t imagine life without their double underline feature. There has been much gnashing of teeth for those making the switch to Google Sheets when they find that their faithful double underline function is not there. This is one of the few ways in which Sheets is inferior to Excel. What is one to do? Before you abandon ship, you should realize that there are a few decent work arounds for the issues. None of them are perfect, but you should be able to get the effect that you are looking for.

Update – As of late February 2017, a double underline is available in Google sheets without needing to use any workarounds.

Double Underline
Double underline option

The remainder of this article is preserved just in case you want to know how hard we had it way back when!

Bottom border and underline

The first option is to use a single bottom border on a cell and then use the underline font style. As you can see, this does creates two lines, but the top line is only as wide as the characters in the cell. Therefore, it won’t really look like a true double underline.

underline font
Single underline with an underline font format
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Underscores and strikethrough

The next option is to type use insert a line of underscores (to the right of the zero hold down shift) in a cell and then apply the strikethrough font style. This will create a double line. The disadvantage of this technique though is that it will be a fixed width. Therefore, if the width of the cell changes, this “underline” will not be the right size anymore.

dash strikethrough
Underscores with the strikethrough
dash strikethrough align right
Underscores after column width changes

Two single bottom borders

The next option is to use the single bottom border on two rows and then shrink the row height to make it look like a double underline. In my opinion, this is most likely going to be your best bet.

two single borders
Two bottom borders
two single borders
Two bottom borders with a shortened row

Excel Mobile App – Double Underline (iPad, iPhone and Android)

Microsoft has made a light version of it’s popular Excel spreadsheet program available for free on iOS and Android devices. It has a pared down feature set so that the user does not go insane trying to dig through the options on a touch screen.  One useful option from the desktop version of Excel that did not make the cut in the mobile version is the double underline.

Many number crunchers like the double underline to show that the bottom of a table of numbers is being summed.

There is still the option to use a single line border or the underline text style, but if neither of those are what you are looking for, fret not.  I am here to show you a work around that will give you a double underline that will cover the entire width of the cell and resize if you change the column width.  Yes my friends, prepare to have your mind blown.

Single Bottom Border and Single Underline

underline and border
Single bottom border and a single underline

Shown above is the single border applied to the cells and then the underline style applied to the data.  This doesn’t work well as you can see because the underline only extends the width of the text.  If the text does not fill up the entire column, it will never look like a double underline.

Hyphens and Single Underline

hyphen and underline
Hyphen and underline

Next, you may try the single underline format and then add a bunch of hyphens.  This works fine if you are never going to resize you columns.  If you do resize your columns though, this technique quickly gets goofed up.

Best Solutions

I have found two pretty solid ways of getting this done.

Two Single Underlines

two bottom borders
Two rows each with a single bottom border

The first way is to first use a single bottom border. Then, add a row and apply a single bottom border to that as well. Shrink the row height and vavoom, there you have it.  One pitfall of this approach though is that the one short row that you added can trip you up later if you add data as it is still a functioning line in your spreadsheet and, if numbers get into it, you may not notice that they are there.

Cell Styles

cell styles menu
Cell style menu
cell style
Cell Styles

The final, and probably “best practice” solution is to apply the last “Titles and Headings” cell style to the totals row.  This will give you a single underline above the totals and a double underline below.  It makes it obvious that the row is the summation of the data and it adds a bit of color too.