How to merge several Google sheets into one without copy-pasting

Every once in a while each Google Sheets user faces the inevitable: combining several sheets into one. Copy-pasting is tedious and time-consuming, so there has to be another way. And you're right - there are several ways, in fact. So get your tables ready and follow the steps from this article.

All the ways I describe can process large tables. But to keep this guide as clear as possible, I'll keep my tables short and am going to cut down to a couple of sheets.

Reference cells in Google Sheets to pull data from another tab

The easiest way comes first. You can pull entire tables to one file by referencing cells with data from other sheets.

Note. This will do if you need to merge two or more sheets within one Google spreadsheet. To merge multiple Google spreadsheets into one, jump right to the next method.

So, my data is scattered all over different sheets: June, July, August. I'd like to pull data from July and August into June to have one table as a result:

  1. Find the first blank cell right after your table (the June sheet for me) and place the cursor there.
  2. Enter your first cell reference. The first table I want to retrieve starts from A2 in the July sheet. So I put:

    =July!A2

    Note. If there are spaces in your sheet name, you must wrap it in single quotes like this:

    ='July 2019'!A2

    This immediately replicates whatever lies in that cell:

    Enter your first cell reference below the table.

    Note. Use relative cell reference so it changes itself when copied to other cells. Otherwise, it will return incorrect data.
  3. Make sure the cell with the reference is selected and click on that little blue square at its bottom right corner. The mouse cursor will turn into a big black plus sign. Keep the mouse pressed and drag the cursor to as many columns to the right as you need to fill them with new records:

    Copy cell references over other columns.

  4. Select this entire new row, click that little blue square once again, hold and drag your mouse down - this time to fill entire rows with cell references and bring new data from another sheet:

    Bring data from another sheet with cell references.

Though this is probably the first way you may think of to pull data from another tab, it's not the most elegant and quick. Luckily, Google prepared other instruments specially for this purpose.

Copy the tabs into one spreadsheet

One of the standard ways is to copy the tabs of interest into the destination spreadsheet:

  1. Open the file that contains the sheet(s) you want to transfer.
  2. Right-click the first tab you need to export and choose Copy to > Existing spreadsheet:

    Copy the tab into an existing spreadsheet or a new spreadsheet.

  3. Next thing you'll see is the pop-up window inviting you to select the spreadsheet. Browse for it, click on it to highlight, and press Select when you're ready:

    Locate the spreadsheet to import data into.

  4. Once the sheet is copied, you'll get a corresponding confirmation message:

    A message confirming the sheet has been exported.

  5. You can either hit OK and continue with the current sheet or follow the link called Open spreadsheet. It will instantly get you to another spreadsheet with the first sheet already there:

    The tab is copied to another spreadsheet.

Export/import sheets

Another way to import data from multiple Google Sheets is to export each sheet first, and then import them all to a necessary file:

  1. Open the spreadsheet that contains the sheet you'd like to pull the data from.
  2. Make the sheet of interest active by selecting it.
  3. Go to File > Download > Comma-separated values (.csv, current sheet):

    Download the sheet as .csv

    The file will be downloaded to your computer.

  4. Then open another spreadsheet - the one you'd like to add the sheet to.
  5. This time, pick File > Import from the menu and go to the Upload tab in the Import file window:

    Upload the sheet you downloaded earlier.

    Hit Select a file from your device and find the sheet you've downloaded just now.

  6. Once the file is uploaded, you'll see a window with additional options for importing the sheet. To add the contents of that another sheet after your existing table, pick Append to current sheet:

    Adjust the options to import sheet.

    Tip. Among other settings, feel free to specify the separator and convert text to numbers, dates, and formulas.
  7. As a result, you'll get two sheets merged - one table under another:

    The second table has been appended to the first one.

    But since it is a .csv file you need to import, the second table remains formatted in a standard way. You will have to spend some time formatting it as you need.

Google Sheets functions to combine data from multiple spreadsheets

Of course, it wouldn't be Google if it didn't have functions to merge data in Google Sheets.

IMPORTRANGE to import data from multiple Google sheets

As the name of the function suggests, IMPORTRANGE imports data from multiple Google spreadsheets into one sheet.

Tip. The function helps Google Sheets pull data from another document as well as from other tabs from the same file.

Here's what the function requires:

=IMPORTRANGE(spreadsheet_url, range_string)
  • spreadsheet_url is nothing else than the link to the spreadsheet from where you need to pull the data. It must always be put between double quotes.
  • range_string stands for those cells specifically that you need to bring to your current sheet.

And here's the pattern I follow to import data from multiple Google Sheets using IMPORTRANGE:

  1. Open the spreadsheet from which you want to pull the data.
    Note. Make sure you have at least viewing access to that file.
  2. Click the browser URL bar and copy the link to this file right till the hash sign (#):

    Copy the link to the spreadsheet of interest.

    Note. You'll need this URL even if you're going to combine sheets from the same file.
  3. Return to the spreadsheet where you want to add the info to, enter the IMPORTRANGE to where the borrowed table should appear, and insert the link as the first argument. Then separate it from the next part with a comma:

    Paste the URL into the formula.

    Note. Remember, the link should be surrounded by double quotes.
    Tip. Though Google says the function requires the whole URL, you can easily get by with a key - a part of the URL between /d/ and /edit:

    ...google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pNqFucLhKIf3PYEp5JhBsYb7jDdf6h1Tca9ar4Hynks/edit

  4. For the second part of the formula, type in the name of the sheet and the exact range that you want to pull. Confirm by pressing Enter.
    Note. Wrap the second argument in double quotes as well:

    =IMPORTRANGE("https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pNqFucLhKIf5PYEp2JhBsYb5jDdf6h1Tca9ar4Hynks/edit","May!A2:D5")

  5. Though the formula looks ready now, it will return the #REF error from the start. That's because the first time you're trying to pull data from some spreadsheet, IMPORTRANGE will ask for access to it. Once the permission is granted, you will easily import records from other sheets of that file.

    Click the cell with the error and press that blue Allow access prompt:

    Connect the sheets to combine them.

    Note. By allowing access, you let the Sheets know you don't mind any existing or potential collaborators on this spreadsheet accessing data from another file.
  6. Once the formula connects to that other sheet, it will import data from there:

    Import data from multiple Google Sheets with IMPORTRANGE.

    Tip. If the tables are rather big, just allow some time for the formula to pull all records.
    Note. The records returned by the function will be updated automatically if you change them in the original file.

Google Sheets QUERY to import ranges from multiple sheets

And thus, without haste, we've come to the QUERY function once again. :) It is so versatile that can be used in Google spreadsheets to combine data from multiple sheets as well.

So, I want to merge three different Google sheets: Winter 2019, Spring 2019, and Summer 2019. They contain the names of all employees who became best in their jobs in different months.

I go to the first sheet - Winter 2019 - and add my QUERY right under the existing table:

=QUERY({'Spring 2019'!A2:D7;'Summer 2019'!A2:D7},"select * where Col1 <>''")

Let's see what it all means:

  • {'Spring 2019'!A2:D7;'Summer 2019'!A2:D7} - are all the sheets and ranges I need to import.
    Note. The sheets should be written in between the curly brackets. If their names contain spaces, use single quotes to list the names.
    Tip. Separate the ranges with a semicolon to pull data from different tabs one under another. Use commas instead to have them imported side by side.
    Tip. Feel free to use such infinite ranges as A2:D.
  • select * where Col1 <>'' - I tell the formula to import all records (select *) only if cells in the first column of the tables (where Col1) are not blank (<>''). I use a pair of single quotes to indicate the non-blanks.

As a result, two tables from other sheets have been consolidated into one sheet one under another:

Google Sheets QUERY - import ranges from multiple sheets.

Tip. If you'd like to use Google Sheets QUERY to import ranges from multiple spreadsheets, you will have to implement IMPORTRANGE. Here's a formula to pull your data from other documents:

=QUERY({IMPORTRANGE("1pNqFucLhKIf5PYEp2JhBsYb5jDdf6h1Tca9ar4Hynks","Mar-Apr-May!A2:D6");IMPORTRANGE("1ie8-uTlIAzahJZHSlhMGLSW_xA6ZBqNmt1I0ADo4N4M","Jun-Jul-Aug!A2:D4")},"select * where Col1<>''")

Tip. I use the keys from URLs rather than entire links in this long-enough formula. If you're not sure what that is, please read here.

The quickest way to merge multiple Google sheets - the Combine Sheets add-on

If standard ways of Google spreadsheets to combine data from multiple sheets seem dull, and the functions scare you off, there's an easier approach.

We have a special add-on that was designed with a single purpose: import data from multiple Google sheets. It's called the same - Combine Sheets. It's clever enough to recognize the same columns in different sheets and bring data together accordingly if you need.

Combine Sheets working scheme.

All you are to do is:

  1. Select sheets or entire spreadsheets to merge and specify the ranges if necessary. The possibility to do a quick search in Drive makes this even faster.
  2. Choose how to pull the data: whether to join records from the same columns into one column; whether to keep the formatting; and if you need an extra line between different ranges to notice them right away.
  3. Decide where to place the merged table: new spreadsheet, new sheet, or in a location of your choice.

Here's a quick demonstration of how I combined my three small tables with the add-on:

Import data from multiple Google sheets into one with Combine Sheets data.

Of course, your tables can be much bigger and you can merge lots of different sheets as long as the resulting spreadsheet doesn't exceed the 5M limit for cells.

I encourage you to not only visit the instructional page for Combine Sheets to get to know it better but also try it on your data. You'll see for yourself how much extra time you'll have after incorporating this tool to your daily work.

On this note, I'm going to finish this article. Hope these ways of pulling data from multiple different sheets into one will be of use. As always, looking forward to your comments!

You may also be interested in:

Post a comment



Unfortunately, due to the volume of comments received we cannot guarantee that we will be able to give you a timely response. When posting a question, please be very clear and concise. We thank you for understanding!