Combining Spreadsheets in Google Sheets

Let’s say you had several spreadsheets saved in Google Drive, and we wanted to combine them into one spreadsheet; how would we do this?

As explained in 📺this video, we can use formulas, but this gets tedious when dealing with a large number of sheets. Instead, we can use a Google Sheet add-on known as Power Tools.

The first thing to note is that the data must have matching headers. They don’t have to be in the same order across all spreadsheets, but they need to match. We can combine the data in a static way or make sure that it’s dynamic by auto-inserting the formulas.

In our case, we are going to combine three spreadsheets that contain lists of companies. Here’s a look at one of the sheets to better understand what we’re working with.

On of the three spreadsheets that are will be combined

There are two other similar sheets – Australian companies & USA companies. Now let’s combine them.

Combining Static Spreadsheets

These are the steps to follow when combining the data is a one-time operation that doesn’t need to update when any of the sheets changes:

  1. Launch Power Tools via Add-ons > Power Tools. (If you haven’t installed Power Tools yet, you can follow this link to install.
  2. In the sidebar on the right, select “Merge & Combine.”
  3. Select “Combine sheets” and click on “Add files from Drive” in the pop-up that appears.
  4. Add all the sheets from which you would like to fetch data.
  5. Make sure the boxes are next to the files and click “Next.”

Using a menu in Power Tools to select all of the spreadsheets to be combined

  1. In the following pop-up that appears next, make sure that “Use a formula to combine sheets” is not checked. (This is because we are working with static data). Now click combine.

Power Tools menu with the option to use a formula to combine the sheets unselected

After a few seconds, a new sheet within the spreadsheet will appear with the combined data.

Combined spreadsheet with a success message

Combine Dynamic Spreadsheets

If we need the combined data to be dynamic, Power Tools can automatically insert the formulas we need. To do this, follow the steps we used in the previous example but, this time, make sure that the box labeled “Use a formula to combine sheets” is checked.

Upon combining, the sheet containing combined data will appear with errors since no user has granted permissions yet. (Remember we need to give access when using IMPORTRANGE). An extra sheet will appear, and we can then grant permissions there. That should correct the errors.

Since we’re using formulas, any changes to the source files will reflect on the combined sheet.

Disclosure: This is an independently owned website that sometimes receives compensation from the company's mentioned products. Prolific Oaktree tests each product, and any opinions expressed here are our own.

AutoSum Function in Google Sheets

You may be looking for AutoSum in Google Sheets, but you won’t find it in the built-in menus.

AutoSum in Excel

Traditionally in Microsoft Excel, you would sum, multiply or divide values in a range by keying in the respective function and then specifying the range. You would add the total number of units In the following dataset by applying the formula, “=SUM(D2:D10)“.

column being SUMMED in Excel

However, as demonstrated in 📺this video, Excel provides a built-in intelligent function that automatically detects the range we wish to sum, known as AutoSum. If we place the cursor on cell D11 and click on AutoSum, Excel will figure out on its own that we intend to sum the range, D2:D10.

column of numbers being highlighted with autosum

 

AutoSum in Google Sheets

Could we do the same in Google Sheets? Well, it’s not as impressive as in Excel. Instead of auto-detecting the range, Google Sheets merely inserts the specified function without the range.

the SUM function appearing in Google Sheets

We could solve this problem using a third-party add-on known as Power Tools.

 

AutoSum in Google Sheets using Power Tools

To install Power Tools, click on this link.

After you install Power Tools, you can launch it via Add-ons > Power Tools > Start.

 

function menu in Power Tools

 

Now that we have the plugin installed, we can repeat the AutoSum operation we did in Excel. To achieve this, click on the cell that needs to add up the total. In our case, we want to get the Units total, so the cell is D11. Now that you have selected the units, head over to the sidebar and click on the AutoSum icon, Σ (not to be confused with the red-underlined Σ). Next, click on SUM in the drop-down that appears. After clicking, the total automatically appears in the cell we selected.

 

the result of autosum in Google Sheets using Power Tools

 

Things to note:

  • You can execute operations besides addition using the Power Tools add-on. The drop-down next to the icon provides a wide selection of functions to apply.
  • There’s an AutoSum by color function in  Power Tools, which sums values based on background color and the text color. Find more on that here.

Disclosure: This is an independently owned website that sometimes receives compensation from the company's mentioned products. Prolific Oaktree tests each product, and any opinions expressed here are our own.

Google Sheets – Custom Number Formatting Made Easy

You can have complete control over the look and feel of the numbers in your spreadsheet by using custom number formatting in Google Sheets. You can follow this example by starting with this template.

This article will walk you through the process of customizing the appearance of the numbers in your spreadsheet. Accordingly, it will teach you how to control your numbers’ visual presentation with currency signs, arrows, and more.  Changing the look is called Custom Number Formatting. To have a comprehensive understanding of Custom Number Formatting, see this video from the Prolific Oaktree Youtube Channel.

Besides the default look, which presents your data in the black font color, you can infuse some level of creativity in your presentation by assigning different font colors to enhance the message of your presentation. For instance, you may want to present debits in red and credits in green.

Take a look at the image below.

red and green custom numbers
Red and Green custom numbers

The data in red have a minus sign (-) before each, which indicates negative, hence, the use of red. On the other hand, the data in green is positive.

Changing the number formatting allows you to change the look, but the values of each cell will not change. It only gives it a different appearance through the color assigned to individual rows of data.

How To Custom Format Your Numbers in Google Sheets

The procedure is simple; locate your menu bar at the top of your spreadsheet and select Format>Number. 

Finding the number formats in the menu
How to Format Numbers

After the number format menu appears, you will notice that there is a preset format for the display of your data. If that is what you want, you do not need to change anything. Just click on it, and you have your option activated.

However, if you want to give the data in each of the cells on your spreadsheet a custom look, you need to dig deeper. We will walk through how to get that done.

Read here for Conditional Formatting an Entire Row.

Customize the Look of Your Numbers in Google Sheets

The way your spreadsheet looks is up to you. Therefore, if you are not satisfied with the general format, this is how you can change it.

  • Highlight the columns with the numbers to be changed.
  • Click on Format on the menu bar.
  • Click on Number from the pop-down menu.
  • Check if there are pre-defined number formats for you to use (if not).
    • Click on More Formats.
    • Click on More Number Formats.

A dialogue box will pop up for you to choose the syntax:

 

List of pre-defined custom number formats
Custom Number format

The syntaxes are below:

Input
0; -0; “-“; “not a number”

Output
Formats a positive number with 0

Formats a negative number with -0

Shows zero as a dash (“-“).

Shows a non-number as “not a number.” Anything in quotes in programming as a syntax remains as it is. The quotes signify that it is a string variable. The semicolon is to separate the columns.

If you intend to format a long number such as “$8,000,000,” you would use the “$#,##0.00” syntax. If you don’t intend to include the decimal points, enter “$#,##” and click the “Apply” option. Voila!

How To Insert Currency Before a Number in Google Sheets

To insert a currency sign before your number, the sign should precede the numbers in the syntax dialogue box such as we have below: 

$* 0.00 – positive

$* – 0.00 – negative

The asterisk (*) gives space between the number and the currency sign. The two zeroes after the decimal force the display of tenths and hundredths.

 

How to Add Color to Custom Number Formatting

As earlier stated, you can give colors to your numbers for easy understanding.

To achieve customized color for your data, type the following syntax:

0[Green]; -0[Red]; ‘-‘[Black] 

NOTE: The name of the color for each number format will come after each of the numbers in parentheses. Make sure you enclose the color for each cell in square brackets (Check the image below).

For the image below, the name for positive numbers is GREEN.  Negative numbers are assigned RED. Zero will appear in BLACK.

Using custom number formatting to change text color
Custom Color format

How to Insert Special Characters in Your Data in Google Sheets

Adding special characters to your presentation can make your Google Sheet easier to understand.

To achieve this

  • Go to the search box if you use Windows and type “character map.”
  • Click on the result highlighted in the image below.
Accessing the character map in Windows
Character Map
  • As a result of clicking on the character map, a box of special characters will pop up on your screen. After the box appears, you can scroll through to select any character of your choice. Grid showing available special characters
  • Copy the selected characters and paste them on your Google sheet.
  • After pasting the characters, select the cells you want to customize.
  • Then select Format>Number>More Format>Custom Number Format.
  • Add your character to the custom syntax you already have in the pop-up.
  • Make sure to place your special character after each parenthesis as we have below.

             #,##0[Green]▲; ‘-#,##[Red]▼’; ‘-‘[Black];”Not a number”

Screen showing custom number formats that have been applied
Applied custom number formats

 

The result is what we have below.

Finished sheet with custom formatted numbers
Finished Sheet

In conclusion, the techniques shown in the article will help you to tell the story of your data in the most compelling way possible.

 Live examples of Custom Number Formatting in Sheets

Go to this spreadsheet for examples combining data.
different tables being combined

Google Sheets – Combining Tables With Different Data Using VLOOKUP

When using Google Sheets, often times you can find yourself wanting to pull data from one table into another. However, these two tables don’t always have the same types of data in the same order. As long as there is at least one value in common, you can use a few tricks to bring data from different tables together into one combined table.

See this YouTube video for a walkthrough of the steps.

We will go over how to do this using several relatively basic steps and ending with the super-useful VLOOKUP formula. VLOOKUP typically looks to the right (we’ll get there), but we can also trick the function and have it look to the left.

 Live examples in Sheets

Go to this spreadsheet for examples combining data.

combine tables with FILTER

Google Sheets – Combine Data without Query | Different Worksheets

This post is written to accompany the YouTube video showing how to combine multiple tables of data in your Google Sheet.

Often times, data that you want to analyze is spread across multiple sheets and multiple files. If you want to combine tables found on multiple worksheets and/or multiple worksheets, these four different techniques will help you join them together. Each technique results in different output. Choose the one that works best for you.

These methods are meant for data with like headers and data types.

Combine tables using UNIQUE
Using UNIQUE
Four circumstances covered
  • Keep Original Order
    • Keep the order of the original data by stacking each list.
  • Sorted
    • Sort the resultant table by any column.
  • Duplicates removed
    • Remove any duplicate lines of data if you don’t want them in your sample.
  • No blank rows
    • Remove any blank rows from your new table.

Also, data from another file can be pulled into these formulas using the IMPORTRANGE function.

 Live examples in Sheets

Go to this spreadsheet for examples combining data.