If you’re looking to convert or export your spreadsheets as PDF files from Google Sheets, you’re in luck! Today we’re going to show you how to convert your Sheets file to PDF with ease!
Why Convert Sheets to PDF
You may have spreadsheets made in Google Sheets with parts you want to share to third parties without giving away internal-only data in a format that can be attached to an email, works permanently, and works offline. PDFs can be password protected just like Google Sheets and can also be signed digitally.
PDF exports are great for distributing documents like price lists, inventory sheets, and invoices. This has its own use case as opposed to sharing an entire original spreadsheet which could look clunky on other devices with smaller screens or having to issue Viewer access for each new user. PDFs are also much simpler to print since they already are in a paper-size format.
Exporting to PDF is a way to lockdown information which doesn’t let anyone else make edits to a file. That is a good practice for handling documents like parts of contracts and agreements, custom price quotations, and time-sensitive data. Modifying a PDF is not as simple as modifying a Google Sheets file because PDFs aren’t typically designed with editability in mind.
Step by Step: How to Convert Google Sheets to PDF
You can follow these steps to convert a Google Sheet into PDF effortlessly.
Step 1. Open the Google Sheets file you want to convert on your computer browser.
Step 2. With the right file active, go to File > Download > PDF Document.
Step 3. Customize your Print settings on the export screen. Worry not as this process doesn’t actually print on paper!
Step 4. Select the destination folder on your Windows or Mac storage where you want to save your PDF.
Step 5. Review your new PDF file to make sure everything is in order.
Google Sheets Print (Export) Settings Explained
Customizing the Print settings (again, no actual ‘printing’ on paper involved — just exporting as a PDF) is necessary to obtain a PDF that is legible. By skipping the settings page, you risk having a PDF nobody likes to read because the page breaks are off and your headers are all over the place. In this section, we’ll help you make sense of the options you have when exporting your sheets to PDF.
1. Export. This dropdown gives you up to three options: Current sheet, Selected cells, and Workbook.
1.1. Current sheet. Exports the active sheet (tab) before you prompted to Download PDF.
1.2. Selected cells. Exports only the cells you have manually selected prior to selecting Download PDF. Use this when you only wish to save a portion of a sheet as PDF instead of the whole tab.
1.3. Workbook. Gives you additional options on which tabs you’d like to export. Selecting Workbook shows the Selection dropdown where you can tick on the boxes if you prefer just the tabs you need or the entire spreadsheet.
2. Paper size. In general, PDFs use one of the standard paper sizes. This is especially important if your organization uses a standard size (either A4, Legal, or Letter) and you expect the file to be printed.
3. Page Orientation. Choose between Landscape or Portrait.
4. Scale. This is one of the make-or-break settings you need to master for properly configured docs. There are five scaling options to choose from: Normal, Fit to height, Fit to width, Fit to page, Custom number, and Fit to page breaks.
4.1. Normal (100%) a.k.a. No scaling. You should probably never use this unless you’ve preconfigured your spreadsheet to print nicely out-of-the-box. Using this could yield you weird wrapping and page breaks.
4.2. Fit to width. This option scales your selection to match the PDF’s width. Use this for wider spreadsheets for that clean look.
4.3. Fit to height. This option scales your entire selection’s height to match a PDF’s height. Good for smaller documents but probably unreadable for most selections that are lengthy and wastes a lot of a page’s width.
4.4. Fit to page. This option scales your entire selection to fit exactly one page.
4.5. Custom number. This option scales your entire selection by a percentage. 100% is just the same as Normal so scale it to a fraction of it (25%, 50%, 75%, 80%, etc) to make more data fit in one page. Conversely, you can choose higher than 100% to enlarge your data.
4.6. Fit to page breaks. This one shows up if you’ve selected Current sheet. It selects a percentage scaling that works best for the current page breaks.
5. Margins. This is the amount of empty space to the outermost sides, top, and bottom of a page. Optimizing with narrower margins would be ideal if it means you can properly scale your data in the PDF pages especially when you’d rather use less paper for actual printing. However, being too narrow can make a PDF feel too cramped for natural reading.
Example 1. Wide margins. 1-inch space at each edge. Liberal with margins. May result into smaller text depending on your scaling option.
Example 2. Normal margins. 0.7-inch margin to the sides and 0.75 at the top and bottom. This is the default setting..
Example 3. Narrow margins. Might feel cramped but fits more info to the document’s width on portrait or more info to the document’s height on landscape mode. When using this, consider that narrow margin displays poorly on paper if the output is bound to be compiled within physical folders or document binders.
Example 4. The custom numbers for margin size interface. You can also use custom numbers for margins so you’ll get a PDF with the margins you’re most comfortable with.
6. Custom Page Breaks. This option is available to configure If you’ve selected Current sheet or a single option under Workbook as the export selection. It is unavailable when attempting to export more than one tab/sheet at a time.
A page break is the cut-off area of your sheet. After a page break, the succeeding section will display as the next page. Experiment with this to yield the best-looking output you require.
Notice the slice we boxed with a red rectangle? That’s an assigned page break. The area before it will be page 1 and the next one will be page 2. Adding more page breaks means more pages. Use this to isolate information that need to be or looks cleaner as individual pages.
Conclusion on How to Convert Google Sheets File to PDF
To recap, we have covered how exactly you could convert or export a Google Sheets file to PDF. By learning this, you’re now able to save time exporting from Google Sheets directly rather than moving your data across many different apps. We’ve also covered the Export settings including Selection, Paper Size, Scale, Margins, and Custom page breaks that can help you optimize your PDF files with a better layout than just the default settings.
More Productivity Using the FileDrop Add-On
FileDrop is an add-on for Google Sheets, Docs, and Drive that makes it so much easier for you to manage your files, attach them to a Google Doc and Sheet directly, use Optical Character Recognition to extract text from PDFs and images, and a lot of other features designed to help you be more productive.
Installing the add-on is free and includes a free forever plan to get you started with the basic features or upgrade to go unlimited and collaborate with your team. Learn more by visiting FileDrop now.
What to Learn Next
There are more settings available through the Formatting and Headers & footers which are also very useful to learn if you’d like to make more professional-looking PDFs from Google Docs. We’ll dive deep into those at a later article.Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter below to be the first to learn about our latest tutorials, guides, and productivity-focused explainers straight from our FileDrop blog!
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