Monday, December 14, 2009

Google Spreadsheets, Exporting and those Damn Gridlines

I have been piloting my business critical documents in Google Docs and I have just been floored by a limitation in the PDF exporting and printing (which generates a PDF for printing) functionality. It appears impossible to print or export a PDF of a Google Spreadsheet without the grey background grid also being included.

Google has what they generously label a workaround but it only provides a way to access a grid-less HTML page, which for printing purposes is less than ideal. Also troublesome is the fact that the workaround is slightly onerous (you need to publish the spreadsheet, modify the supplied URL, navigate to the URL and then use your browser's print function) and worse yet in my tests is not 100% effective in removing the grid lines.

This limitation means generating attractive invoices and timesheets or other structured designs with Spreadsheets is difficult or impossible. I am awaiting a more effective workaround or an actual fix from Google with baited breath. Help them get the message for voting for any or all of the currently five distinct petitions for sorting this out on Google Docs Product Ideas.


  1. I've actually created a web-app that removes the gridlines. You still need to publish the spreadsheet though.

    1. Publish the spreadsheet and copy the URL
    2. Go to:
    3. Paste the URL into the text field and press "Go!"

  2. Thanks MultiMike, I will have a look at it. I do not suppose they fixed this issue with the new version of Spreadsheets?

  3. I finally got around to testing this and it worked well for the testing page I quickly created. I was really impressed by the speed at which it worked (admittedly, my example was basic).

    Apart from needing to publish the page for this to work, the other issue that could limit the usage of this tool is the lack of page layout options. Being unable to select the page size and orientation may be showstopper for many people.

    Still, if MultiMike wanted to demonstrate that there is no reason why Google should not be able to do this in their print options, I think he overwhelmingly succeeded. Thanks MultiMike!