Limitations of Google Sheets (Row/Column/File Size)

If you have used Google Sheets even for a few minutes, I am sure you’ve felt that there are some limitations with it.

Since I have been a Microsoft Excel user for years now, I invariably compare these two spreadsheet tools and draw comparisons.

In this article, I am listing a few limitations of Google Sheets. Having an idea of what it can and can’t do will help you make the best use of this spreadsheet tool.

Note: There were a lot of limitations in Google Sheets that have been removed by adding new features to it. There are always new functionalities being added and it makes Google Sheets a great choice for a spreadsheet tool.

Limitation of Google Sheets

Below are some of the limitations of Google Sheets:

Maximum of 5 Million Cells

A Google Sheets document can have a maximum of 5 million cells. These can be in a single worksheet or in multiple sheets.

In case you already have the 5 million limit reached in fewer columns, it will not allow you to add more columns (and vice versa, i.e., if 5 million cells limit is reached with a certain number of rows, it will not allow more rows).

In case you try to do this, you will see a prompt as shown below:

Google Sheets Limitation of cells - 5 millions cells prompt

Note that limit is applicable to sheets created in Google Sheets or converted to Google Sheets both.

Maximum of 18,278 Columns

At max, you can have 18,278 columns in Google Sheets in a worksheet.

In case you try and add more columns that exceed this limit, you will see a prompt as shown below.

Column Limitation in Google sheets

Also, in case you already have a lot of rows and you exceed the 5 million cells limit even if your column number is less than 18278, you will not be able to insert more columns

No Row Limit (but 5 million cells limit)

Earlier Google Sheets used to have a limit of 40,000 rows, but when I checked that while writing this article, I see that it has been removed.

You can see in the image below, I have 200001 rows already and I can still add more rows.

Row Limit in Google Sheets

But if I add rows that lead to exceeding the 5 million cell limit, Google Sheets will not allow me to add the rows.

Tab Limit (No Limit but Max of 5 Million Cells)

Just like Row limit, there is no tab limit as of writing this tutorial.

But there is a 5 million cells limit that will decide how many tabs you can have in the Google Sheets.

By default, a new worksheet has 26000 cells (100 rows and 26 columns). And if you stick to this row and column limit in each sheet, you can insert a maximum of 192 worksheets.

After it, you will see a dialog box reminding you of the cell limit in Google Sheets.

File Size Limit – 100 MB

When you convert a file into Google Sheets, it can have a maximum of 100 MB size.

For files that are created in Google Sheets itself, the limit is 5 million rows.

Formula Related Limitations:

  • GoogleFinance formulas: Max of 1,000 GoogleFinance formulas
  • ImportRange formulas: Max of 50 cross-workbook reference formulas
  • CONCAT: You can concatenate a maximum of 50000 characters
  • ImportHtml, ImportFeed, ImportData, or ImportXml formulas: Max of 50 functions for external data
Note: The reason Google Sheets has to struggle with so many limitations is due to the fact that it’s web-based. While this makes a seamless online experience, it does come with a set of limitations. However, the speed with which Google Sheets is evolving is impressive and I am amazed by how many people have now ditched other tools for Google Sheets.

You may also like the following Google Sheets tutorials: