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Embed Google Spreadsheet in Google Document

Solutons:


From today (2016-05-20) on, Google is starting to roll out the ability to embed a chart from a Google spreadsheet into a Google document. At this point, two of my 3 Google accounts make the option available in the Insert menu, with a new Insert→Chart submenu below the Insert→Drawing… item.

When you insert such charts, they remain linked to the original spreadsheet. If all you want is tabular data, there’s a table chart type that you can use to present your data as a simple table.

There are some limitations at this stage (e.g. regarding the size of the chart) and the chart must pre-exist in the spreadsheet before you can insert it, but this is going in the right direction…


To insert a spreadsheet or table, use Add a table from Google Sheets by copy-pasting from Sheets to Docs and choose the linked option.

The chart is not updated live if you modify the source spreadsheet while your document is opened, however, the document will detect changes and give you an Update button above the embedded spreadsheet to reflect the latest changes in the source.

AFAIK, you can only copy and paste from the spreadsheet to the text document. The spreadsheet is inserted as a table, but they are not linked: if you change something in the Spreadsheet, it will not get reflected in the text document.

Of course, I’d absolutely love to be proved wrong!

Here is a script-based solution which allows one to insert a table with the contents from a given range within a given spreadsheet. I did not try to find a way to sync data real-time, as it didn’t seem practical given potentially large volume of data that would have to be transferred with every edit to the spreadsheet. Instead, the script adds a custom menu item “update data” to the document.

The script should be bound to the document (i.e., created using Tools > Script Editor in the document menu). The spreadsheet URL, as well as the sheet and range to use, are specified within the script. To embed all the data on the sheet, replace .getRange(rangeName) with .getDataRange().

When the function updateData is first executed, it appends the table at the end of document. At subsequent runs, it updates the table in place (i.e., if more text is added after the table, the order will be preserved).

Note that cutting-pasting the table would break the updating process (the script would add a new table at the end) since the pasted copy is a new object. Instead, cut-paste the text around the table.

function onOpen() {
  DocumentApp.getUi()
             .createMenu('Custom')
             .addItem('Update Data', 'updateData')
             .addToUi();
}

function updateData() {
  var ssUrl=" spreadsheet url here ";
  var sheetName="Sheet2";   // name of sheet to use
  var rangeName="A1:C3";    // range of values to include 

  var values = SpreadsheetApp.openByUrl(ssUrl)
                             .getSheetByName(sheetName)
                             .getRange(rangeName)
                             .getValues();
  var doc = DocumentApp.getActiveDocument();
  var body = doc.getBody();
  var ranges = doc.getNamedRanges('embeddedSheet-range');
  if (ranges.length == 0) {
    var table = body.appendTable(values);
  }
  else {
    tableRange = ranges[0];
    table = tableRange.getRange().getRangeElements()[0].getElement();
    var ind = body.getChildIndex(table);
    tableRange.remove();
    body.removeChild(table);
    table = body.insertTable(ind, values);
  }
  var rangeBuilder = doc.newRange();
  rangeBuilder.addElement(table);
  doc.addNamedRange('embeddedSheet-range', rangeBuilder.build());
}

Technical notes

  1. It’s also possible to sync the data every hour, in addition to manually. Just add a time-based trigger from Script Editor’s Resources menu, so that it runs the function updateData.

  2. One can also adapt this script to be bound to the source spreadsheet instead. This would require changes in how the document is opened (e.g., by URL), but otherwise the logic is the same.

  3. The cumbersome part of the script is getting the handle of the existing table in the document. This requires placing it within a Named Range. Also, it is much more expedient to completely replace the table element than to mess with the entries of an existing table. Since a Named Range is immutable, it is also removed with the table it contains, and then created again, along with the new table.

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