Easy Guide to Import Data into Google Sheets - 3 Methods

Jason Gong
June 6, 2024

Import data into Google Sheets using built-in functions or APIs.

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Importing data into Google Sheets is a crucial skill for anyone working with spreadsheets, whether you're a business analyst, marketer, or data enthusiast. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the process of efficiently importing data into Google Sheets, covering everything from understanding file types to using advanced automation techniques. By the end of this guide, you'll be equipped with the knowledge and tools to streamline your data import workflows and make the most of Google Sheets' powerful features.

Understanding File Types and Preparing for Import

Google Sheets supports a wide range of file formats for importing data, including:

  • CSV (Comma-Separated Values)
  • TSV (Tab-Separated Values)
  • TXT (Plain Text)
  • ODS (OpenDocument Spreadsheet)
  • XLS (Microsoft Excel 97-2003)
  • XLSX (Microsoft Excel 2007 and later)

Before importing your data into Google Sheets, it's essential to ensure that your files are properly formatted and cleaned. This involves:

  1. Removing any unnecessary formatting, such as colors, borders, or merged cells
  2. Checking for consistency in data types (e.g., dates, numbers, text)
  3. Eliminating blank rows or columns
  4. Ensuring that your data has headers in the first row

By preparing your data files correctly, you can streamline the import process and avoid potential issues or errors when working with your data in Google Sheets. For more advanced data handling, consider adding GPT to Google Sheets to automate and analyze your workflows.

Using Built-in Google Sheets Functions for Data Import

Google Sheets offers several powerful built-in functions that allow you to import data directly from the web into your spreadsheets. These functions include:

  • IMPORTDATA: Imports data from a CSV or TSV file located at a specified URL
  • IMPORTHTML: Imports data from a table or list within an HTML page
  • IMPORTXML: Imports data from any table or list element within an XML document
  • IMPORTFEED: Imports a RSS or ATOM feed and returns the feed title, items, or a specific item from the feed

To use these functions, you need to provide the appropriate URL and additional parameters as required. For example, to import data from a CSV file using IMPORTDATA, you would enter the following formula in a cell:


Similarly, to import a table from a webpage using IMPORTHTML, you would use:

=IMPORTHTML("https://example.com/webpage.html", "table", 1)

In this case, "table" specifies that you want to import a table (as opposed to a list), and "1" indicates that you want to import the first table on the page.

These functions are particularly useful when you need to connect Google Sheets to external sources that are regularly updated, as they allow you to automatically refresh the imported data without manual intervention.

Use Bardeen to enrich LinkedIn profile links in Google Sheets and save hours on manual data entry.

Importing Data Through Google Sheets API

The Google Sheets API is a powerful tool that allows you to automate data imports into your spreadsheets. With the API, you can build custom integrations that seamlessly transfer data from various sources directly into Google Sheets.

To get started with the Google Sheets API, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new project in the Google Cloud Console and enable the Google Sheets API for your project.
  2. Obtain the necessary API credentials, including an API key and OAuth 2.0 client ID, which will be used to authenticate your requests to the API.
  3. Install the Google Client Library for your preferred programming language (e.g., Python, JavaScript, or Java) to simplify interactions with the API.
  4. Use the API client library to write code that connects to the Google Sheets API and performs desired actions, such as reading data from or writing data to a spreadsheet.

Here's a simple Python example that demonstrates how to write data to a Google Sheet using the API:

from googleapiclient.discovery import build
creds = None
if creds is None:
  creds = Credentials.from_authorized_user_file('token.json', SCOPES)
service = build('sheets', 'v4', credentials=creds)
sheet_id = 'YOUR_SHEET_ID'
range_name = 'Sheet1!A1:B2'
values = [['Name', 'Age'], ['John', '30'], ['Alice', '25']]
body = {'values': values}
result = service.spreadsheets().values().update(spreadsheetId=sheet_id, range=range_name, valueInputOption='RAW', body=body).execute()

By leveraging the Google Sheets API, you can create powerful automations that keep your spreadsheets up-to-date with the latest data from various sources, saving you time and effort in manual data entry and management. For more advanced data handling, you might want to scrape data from websites to import into your Google Sheets.

Troubleshooting Common Issues with Data Import

When importing data into Google Sheets, you may encounter various issues that can hinder the process. Here are some common problems and their solutions:

  1. Incorrect data formatting: Ensure that your data is properly formatted before importing. This includes using consistent date formats, removing any special characters or formatting, and ensuring that each column contains only one data type (e.g., text, numbers, or dates).
  2. Import errors: If you receive an error message during the import process, carefully read the message to identify the issue. Common causes include exceeding the maximum number of cells, unsupported file formats, or invalid data. Address these issues by reducing the data size, converting the file to a supported format, or cleaning up the data.
  3. Limitations of import functions: Some built-in functions, such as IMPORTDATA or IMPORTXML, may have limitations on the amount of data they can handle or the types of data they can import. If you encounter issues with these functions, consider breaking your data into smaller chunks or using alternative methods like the Google Sheets API.
  4. Formatting issues after import: Sometimes, imported data may not maintain its original formatting. To resolve this, use Google Sheets' formatting tools to adjust the appearance of your data, such as applying number formats, wrapping text, or resizing columns.

If you continue to face issues after trying these solutions, consider reaching out to the Google Sheets support community or seeking guidance from online resources and forums dedicated to troubleshooting Google Sheets data import problems.

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Advanced Techniques: Automating and Scheduling Imports

To take your Google Sheets data import process to the next level, consider automating and scheduling your imports. This can save you time and ensure your data is always up-to-date.

One powerful way to automate your imports is by using Google Apps Script. With Apps Script, you can write custom scripts to automatically import data from various sources, such as CSV files, into your Google Sheets.

Here's a step-by-step guide to automating CSV data imports using Apps Script:

  1. Open your Google Sheet and go to "Tools" > "Script editor" to create a new Apps Script project.
  2. Write a script that uses the DriveApp and SpreadsheetApp services to access your CSV files and import the data into your sheet. You can use the Utilities.parseCsv() method to parse the CSV data.
  3. Set up a time-driven trigger to run your script on a schedule, such as daily or weekly. This ensures your data is automatically imported at regular intervals without manual intervention.

Another way to automate your imports is by using third-party tools like Zapier or Integromat for sales prospecting. These tools allow you to create "Zaps" or "Scenarios" that connect your data sources to Google Sheets, enabling automatic data imports based on triggers or schedules.

When automating your imports, consider these best practices:

  • Ensure your data sources are reliable and consistently formatted to avoid import errors.
  • Implement error handling in your scripts to gracefully handle any issues that may arise during the import process.
  • Monitor your automated imports regularly to ensure they are running smoothly and the data is accurate.

By automating and scheduling your Google Sheets data imports, you can automate enrichment and qualification, streamline your workflow, reduce manual effort, and keep your data current effortlessly.

Automate Google Sheets Imports with Bardeen Playbooks

Importing data into Google Sheets is a fundamental task for data analysis, tracking, and collaboration. While Google Sheets provides various methods for data import, automating these processes can save you a significant amount of time and reduce manual errors. Bardeen offers a suite of automations, or 'Playbooks', that can simplify and automate the process of importing data into Google Sheets from different sources.

Here are some examples of automations that can be built with Bardeen:

  1. Save data from the Google News page to Google Sheets: This Playbook automates the process of extracting news from Google News and saving it directly into Google Sheets, making it invaluable for researchers and marketers who need to stay updated with the latest news.
  2. Copy Upwork job data to a Google Sheet: Freelancers and agencies can automate tracking of job postings on Upwork, saving valuable information directly into Google Sheets for analysis and follow-up.
  3. Save Crunchbase company data to Google Sheets: For analysts and investors, this Playbook allows for the automatic transfer of company data from Crunchbase into Google Sheets, streamlining market research and due diligence.

These are just a few examples of how Bardeen's Playbooks can enhance your productivity by automating the import of data into Google Sheets. Explore more on Bardeen's website to discover other powerful automations.

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