How to Create a Calendar in Google Docs
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How to Create a Calendar in Google Docs

Google Calendar is the perfect tool for staying organized. It keeps track of your meetings, reminds you of important due dates, and is an awesome resource for planning out your workdays.

But there are a few situations where a Google Calendar just doesn’t work the way you want it to.

As powerful as Google Calendar is, there isn’t a lot of room for creativity. You’re locked into the yearly, monthly, weekly, or daily view options. If you need more than just the date and time of an event (such as if you’re trying to create an editorial calendar), it can be nearly impossible to find the info you’re looking for in the app.

For the situations where you need something different, Google Docs or Google Sheets could be a better option.

In this post, we’ll look at:

  • When it’s better to create a calendar in Docs or Sheets,
  • How to build a calendar in Docs, and
  • How to build a calendar in Sheets

Why create a calendar in Google Docs or Google Sheets?

Google Docs and Google Sheets both make great calendar options when you need to outline a plan, such as if you’re creating a monthly budget, editorial calendar, or even a personal meal plan or exercise regimen.

The biggest benefit of both Google Docs and Google Sheets is that you’re able to completely customize the information you store in them––something that can be a little trickier to do in Google Calendar.

While you can leave short notes and descriptions for Calendar events, Docs and Sheets can lay out all your information, with more customized formatting, right in one place. You can choose to have anything from a quick overview to an extremely detailed data log, depending on what you create.

These types of documents also allow your team members to be collaborative when necessary. They can easily contribute and share thoughts and ideas––something that often requires certain permissions and approvals in Google Calendar.

However, there are some limitations to Docs and Sheets. Because neither is designed for calendar use, you need to build out the calendar yourself. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can do this.

How to build a calendar in Google Docs:

Google Docs is a great way to create a basic calendar that you can then share with coworkers (or print out to manually fill out). Here’s how to create a calendar in Docs completely from scratch.

1. Open a new document.

To get started, open a brand new Google Doc.

Give it a name specific to the calendar you’re creating, and enter the month you want to start with:

creating a calendar in google docs

While we’re going to create a monthly calendar for the sake of this guide, you can start with whatever time period you need. This method works for weekly, quarterly, or even yearly calendars too.

2. Add a table.

Next, add a table to make your calendar squares.

Under Insert, select Table:

adding table to new calendar in google docs
The number of squares you choose will depend on how many days you’re looking to keep track of.

For our monthly calendar, we’ve selected 7 x 6, to account for weekends, and the month ending and beginning midweek. Feel free to adjust this according to your own needs.

3. Include your dates.

Complete your calendar by adding in your dates:

adding dates to calendar in google doc

If necessary, you can include an additional row at the top of your calendar for the days of the week. Just be sure the date that you add in each cell corresponds to the weekday it falls on.

4. Make it your own.

This is where you can really see the benefit of creating a calendar in Google Docs. Now that you have the skeleton of your calendar created, you’re ready to get creative.

Use colors to coordinate similar days and events, add different fonts or bold items to make them stand out, or resize your calendar blocks to give more space where you need it most:

color-coordinating a calendar in google docs

Go beyond just adding what’s due each day or what you’d like to accomplish—try color-coordinating dates based on the content within each block or by who is responsible for that task or event. You can also add dates, notes, or other relevant details you want to keep track of.

Start simple. While you want your calendar to be appropriately marked and coordinated, you also don’t want to create something so overwhelming it’s difficult to read. Add just a few formatting details to begin. You can always build upon them later if you need to.

You can also flip your Google Doc into landscape view for a more natural-looking calendar.

Select Page Setup under the File tab. Then select Landscape under Orientation in the popup page:

setting up orientation of calendar in google docs

Since this is in a Google Doc, you also have the freedom to add whatever notes, images, or other media you think is important. If you’re sharing the calendar with other people, you might find it useful to create a key for reading your calendar or add a description outlining the purpose of the calendar.

How to build a calendar in Google Sheets:

Creating a calendar in Google Docs can give you the freedom to create something entirely unique. But it is possible to have too much freedom. Things can get messy when you’re working on a completely blank page.

For those who need a bit of guidance without compromising your creative freedom, turn to Google Sheets.

If you’re already using G Suite and don’t want to pay for another piece of software or SaaS product, Google Sheets is the go-to app for creating editorial calendars, goal-achieving plans, and more. It gives you the same level of flexibility as Google Docs, but keeps your calendar a little bit cleaner.

Here’s how to create your own calendar in Google Sheets.

1. Start with a blank spreadsheet.

Just like in the Google Docs version, your first step is to open a blank spreadsheet, give it a name, and start by labeling the year, month, or week you’d like to start with.

To avoid just replicating what we’ve already created in Google Docs, we’re going to use a weekly calendar in this example:

creating a calendar in google sheets
We’re starting with Week 1 of 52.

2. Add days of the week and dates.

Next, add your dates and days of the week.

There are a couple of ways you can do this.

The first way is to have your dates and weekdays along the top of your sheet:

adding dates to a calendar on google sheets
This pattern follows a standard calendar layout.

Notice how we aligned the first day of the year with the weekday it falls on. Be sure to double (maybe even triple) check that this is correct. Just one day off could ruin your entire calendar.

A second option would be to put your days and dates along the side of your calendar:

alternative format for calendar in google sheets

It’s not conventional, but depending on the information you’re storing in your calendar, this might be easier to read. For example, if you’re looking for a weekly editorial calendar, this style can keep things a little more organized (as you’ll see in the next step).

Pro-tip 💡

Go beyond spreadsheets.

Did you know that your CRM can consolidate many of the tasks you use spreadsheets for? Learn how in this webinar.

3. Fill in your days.

The skeleton of your weekly calendar is now established! You’re ready to start filling in your dates:

filling in dates in calendar on google sheets

With this calendar style, be sure to wrap your text within each cell to prevent it from spilling over.

To wrap a cell’s text, select the cells you want it to apply to. Then, along the formatting bar, find the Text Wrapping button. You’ll want to choose the option with the wrap-around arrow:

how to wrap text in google sheets

Alternatively, you can select Format from the menu. Then choose Text Wrapping and Wrap:

text wrapping alternative in google sheets

Here’s how our schedule would look in our second weekly calendar example:

example of a calendar in google sheets

While this is a bit of a non-traditional calendar, it also creates a much cleaner landscape for keeping track of events or things you need to complete.

4. Keep building.

One of the best reasons to use Google Sheets to create your calendar (and why we prefer it over Google Docs) is that it’s easy to keep building and improving upon. The spreadsheet’s continuous format means you can keep adding months, weeks, or even years to your calendar––keeping all your info in one place:

built out calendar in google sheets

You can also add new columns to keep track of other data within your calendar. For example, in our editorial calendar, we can use conditional formatting to easily keep an eye on project status.

Conditional formatting can make color, text, or other changes to individual cell based on certain factors. In our editorial calendar example, you can use conditional formatting to automatically indicate which content is overdue.

Let’s say we want to apply conditional formatting to easily identify which content is complete and which still needs to be finished:

First, select the column containing the data you’re working with (you can also apply this to rows or individual cells):

conditional formatting in google sheets

Next, under Format, choose Conditional formatting. In the sidebar that pops up, you can then fill in the conditional format rules to make your spreadsheet unique:

conditional formatting options for google sheets

Our first rule is to color any cell with the text “Yes” green. In the dropdown menu, select Text contains then type “Yes” in the box below. Then adjust the formatting style.

Follow the same steps to format the other text options in the column:

conditional formatting in google sheets calendar

When you’re done, the text boxes will automatically change when you adjust the text within. Changing a “No” to “In Progress” will change the cell from red to yellow. This will give you a quick snapshot of the information within your calendar.

Conditional formatting can help your spreadsheet calendar stay more organized, especially if you’ll be making frequent changes to the content within.

Pro-tip: Make your calendar unique. Add your own formulas, create your own rules, and create the columns or rows you need to get the most from your calendar.

Use pre-built templates to create a calendar even more quickly.

If you’re not interested in creating a calendar from scratch, there are hundreds of calendar templates for Google Sheets online. Pick one to use as a foundation for creating your own calendar, then you can add your details and build from there.

The Google Docs or Google Sheets template gallery has a lot of great pre-built templates to help get you started:

google sheets templates
From the template gallery, just select the template you’d like to use and it will open a new copy for you.

This is a great option for more complex calendars or when you’re in a rush. For example, the Project Timeline template gives you a clean, already-ready Gannt chart to quickly map out a project plan:

gannt chart in google sheets

You can then edit the template and calendar to your own specific needs.

Experiment with creating your own calendar in Google Docs.

The freedom of creating a calendar in Google Docs and Google Sheets is what makes the apps so exciting. Use these tips to get started, but play around with the different features, functions, and add-ons to create a calendar that truly meets all your needs.

However, know when it’s time to use an alternative (i.e. when you should just stick with Google Calendar).

When you need a deeply detailed view at a plan, strategy, or specific period of time, Google Docs or Google Sheets are probably your best options.

Don’t feel limited to just one tool or one view. There will be some situations where a Google Sheets calendar can better suit your needs and others where Google Docs can get the job done. Play around in both (as well as Google Calendar!) to see how you can make the most of each tool.

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