How to Use IMPORTRANGE Function in Google Sheets (with Examples)

Do you want to import the data from other Google Sheets into the one in which your working currently?

You can do this easily using the IMPORTRANGE function in Google Sheets.

While it’s really easy to connect two workbooks in Excel that reside on your hard drive or a network drive, the only way to connect two Google Sheets is by using the IMPORTRANGE Function.

IMPORTRANGE Function – Syntax

IMPORTRANGE(spreadsheet_urlrange_string)
  • spreadsheet_url – this URL of the Google Sheets spreadsheet from which you want to import the data. This URL needs to be within double quotes. You can also have the URL in a cell and then use the cell reference.
  • range_string – the range of cells that you want to import. Note that this needs to be in the following format: “[sheet_name!]range”. For example, if you want to import the cells A1:C10 from a sheet named Test, the format would be “Test!A1:C10”
    • If you do not specify the sheet name, the formula would assume that you need to import the data from the first sheet of the Google Sheets document.
    • You can also have this text in a cell and then use the cell reference as the second argument.

Let’s see an example on how to use this function in Google Sheets.

Example – Import specific cells from a Google Sheets Spreadsheet

Suppose you have different Google Sheets that have the test scores of students in different subjects (i.e., one sheet for Math score and one sheet for English and so on).

If you want to combine all these sheets and have the data in the same sheet, you can use the IMPORTRANGE function.

Before you use the formula, you need to get the URL of the Google Sheets from which you want to import the data.

You can find that URL in the address bar of the browser when that Google Sheets document is open.

IMPORTRANGE Function in Google Sheets - Copy the URL

Alternatively, you can also copy the short key from the URL instead of the full URL (as shown below). For this tutorial, I will use the short key in the formula.

IMPORTRANGE Function in Google Sheets - Short Key

Below is the formula that will give you the import the names of the students and their score in the current sheet:

=IMPORTRANGE("1G_XEiSnUu0o8kmbkNVlQgTIjoE5lGqErRK3TlNfR1oI","'Math Score'!A2:B10")

Note that the second argument of this formula is “‘Math Score’!A2:B10”. In this argument, you need to specify the sheet name as well as the range (enclosed in double quotes). 

When you enter this formula for the first time, you will see the #REF! error in the sheet.

On hovering over the cell, you will see a prompt asking you to ‘Allow access’.

IMPORTRANGE Function in Google Sheets - Allow Access

Click on the blue button, and it will give you the result. Note that this happens only once for a URL. Once you have allowed access, it will not ask for it again.

Result of the IMPORT Range function in Google Sheets

This can be helpful if you’re trying to get the data from multiple sheets. For example, in this case, you can get the score of all the subjects from different Google Sheets into a single sheet.

Note that once the sheets are connected (as you allowed access the first time you used the formula), any update done in any of the sheets would automatically be reflected as the result of the formula. For example, if you edit the score of a student, it will automatically change in the sheet which has the formula.

Also, when using the IMPORTRANGE formula, make sure enough empty cells are available to accommodate the result of the formula.

If you have some data in a cell that overlaps with the cell needed for the formula result, the formula will return an error. However, it helps in identifying the error by letting you know the issue when you hover over the cell.

Error in cell while using the IMPORTRANGE formula in Google Sheets

Tips for using IMPORTRANGE Function:

  • If you’re importing the data from many sheets, it may get a bit confusing. It’s a good practice to create named ranges in the source sheet and then use the named range. For example, instead of ‘Math Score’!A2:B10, you can use ‘Math Score’!Data
  • If you expect that data would be added in the source sheet, instead of pulling a specific range, pull the entire column. For example, instead of ‘Math Score’!A2:B10, use ‘Math Score’!A:B. This will pull the data from entire A and B columns. Now if you add more data to the source sheet, it will automatically be updated in the destination sheet.

Here some documentation by Google on the IMPORTRANGE function.

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