This is the main "read" function of the googlesheets4 package. It goes by two names, because we want it to make sense in two contexts:

  • read_sheet() evokes other table-reading functions, like readr::read_csv() and readxl::read_excel(). The sheet in this case refers to a Google (spread)Sheet.

  • range_read() is the right name according to the naming convention used throughout the googlesheets4 package.

read_sheet() and range_read() are synonyms and you can use either one.

  sheet = NULL,
  range = NULL,
  col_names = TRUE,
  col_types = NULL,
  na = "",
  trim_ws = TRUE,
  skip = 0,
  n_max = Inf,
  guess_max = min(1000, n_max),
  .name_repair = "unique"

  sheet = NULL,
  range = NULL,
  col_names = TRUE,
  col_types = NULL,
  na = "",
  trim_ws = TRUE,
  skip = 0,
  n_max = Inf,
  guess_max = min(1000, n_max),
  .name_repair = "unique"



Something that identifies a Google Sheet:

  • its file id as a string or drive_id

  • a URL from which we can recover the id

  • a one-row dribble, which is how googledrive represents Drive files

  • an instance of googlesheets4_spreadsheet, which is what gs4_get() returns

Processed through as_sheets_id().


Sheet to read, in the sense of "worksheet" or "tab". You can identify a sheet by name, with a string, or by position, with a number. Ignored if the sheet is specified via range. If neither argument specifies the sheet, defaults to the first visible sheet.


A cell range to read from. If NULL, all non-empty cells are read. Otherwise specify range as described in Sheets A1 notation or using the helpers documented in cell-specification. Sheets uses fairly standard spreadsheet range notation, although a bit different from Excel. Examples of valid ranges: "Sheet1!A1:B2", "Sheet1!A:A", "Sheet1!1:2", "Sheet1!A5:A", "A1:B2", "Sheet1". Interpreted strictly, even if the range forces the inclusion of leading, trailing, or embedded empty rows or columns. Takes precedence over skip, n_max and sheet. Note range can be a named range, like "sales_data", without any cell reference.


TRUE to use the first row as column names, FALSE to get default names, or a character vector to provide column names directly. If user provides col_types, col_names can have one entry per column or one entry per unskipped column.


Column types. Either NULL to guess all from the spreadsheet or a string of readr-style shortcodes, with one character or code per column. If exactly one col_type is specified, it is recycled. See Column Specification for more.


Character vector of strings to interpret as missing values. By default, blank cells are treated as missing data.


Logical. Should leading and trailing whitespace be trimmed from cell contents?


Minimum number of rows to skip before reading anything, be it column names or data. Leading empty rows are automatically skipped, so this is a lower bound. Ignored if range is given.


Maximum number of data rows to parse into the returned tibble. Trailing empty rows are automatically skipped, so this is an upper bound on the number of rows in the result. Ignored if range is given. n_max is imposed locally, after reading all non-empty cells, so, if speed is an issue, it is better to use range.


Maximum number of data rows to use for guessing column types.


Handling of column names. By default, googlesheets4 ensures column names are not empty and are unique. There is full support for .name_repair as documented in tibble::tibble().


A tibble

Column Specification

Column types must be specified in a single string of readr-style short codes, e.g. "cci?l" means "character, character, integer, guess, logical". This is not where googlesheets4's col spec will end up, but it gets the ball rolling in a way that is consistent with readr and doesn't reinvent any wheels.

Shortcodes for column types:

  • _ or -: Skip. Data in a skipped column is still requested from the API (the high-level functions in this package are rectangle-oriented), but is not parsed into the data frame output.

  • ?: Guess. A type is guessed for each cell and then a consensus type is selected for the column. If no atomic type is suitable for all cells, a list-column is created, in which each cell is converted to an R object of "best" type. If no column types are specified, i.e. col_types = NULL, all types are guessed.

  • l: Logical.

  • i: Integer. This type is never guessed from the data, because Sheets have no formal cell type for integers.

  • d or n: Numeric, in the sense of "double".

  • D: Date. This type is never guessed from the data, because date cells are just serial datetimes that bear a "date" format.

  • t: Time of day. This type is never guessed from the data, because time cells are just serial datetimes that bear a "time" format. Not implemented yet; returns POSIXct.

  • T: Datetime, specifically POSIXct.

  • c: Character.

  • C: Cell. This type is unique to googlesheets4. This returns raw cell data, as an R list, which consists of everything sent by the Sheets API for that cell. Has S3 type of "CELL_SOMETHING" and "SHEETS_CELL". Mostly useful internally, but exposed for those who want direct access to, e.g., formulas and formats.

  • L: List, as in "list-column". Each cell is a length-1 atomic vector of its discovered type.

  • Still to come: duration (code will be :) and factor (code will be f).


if (gs4_has_token()) {
  ss <- gs4_example("deaths")
  read_sheet(ss, range = "A5:F15")
  read_sheet(ss, range = "other!A5:F15", col_types = "ccilDD")
  read_sheet(ss, range = "arts_data", col_types = "ccilDD")

    sheet = "Europe",
    range = "A:D",
    col_types = "ccid"
#>  Reading from deaths.
#>  Range A5:F15.
#>  Reading from deaths.
#>  Range ''other'!A5:F15'.
#>  Reading from deaths.
#>  Range arts_data.
#>  Reading from mini-gap.
#>  Range Africa.
#>  Reading from mini-gap.
#>  Range ''Europe'!A:D'.
#> # A tibble: 5 × 4
#>   country                continent  year lifeExp
#>   <chr>                  <chr>     <int>   <dbl>
#> 1 Albania                Europe     1952    55.2
#> 2 Austria                Europe     1952    66.8
#> 3 Belgium                Europe     1952    68  
#> 4 Bosnia and Herzegovina Europe     1952    53.8
#> 5 Bulgaria               Europe     1952    59.6