Google Apps Script: Create multiple versions of a document based on Google Sheet Data and a Google Doc Template (Mail Merge)

Google Apps Script: SpreasheetApp, DocumentApp, DriveApp; Google Sheets, Google Docs

If you have ever worked in LibreOffice or Microsoft Excel you will probably be familiar with the mail merge. Traditionally, mail merge is used to create multiple versions of a document and snail-mail them to someone.

These days, we don’t often use the snail mail approach, but it is a regular occurrence for us to need to produce multiple versions of reports based on a data set usually from a spreadsheet.

In this tutorial, we will create a document merger that will create new Google Documents based on a dataset from a Google Sheet using Google Apps Script.

If you want to quickly jump into your own project with our script, I’ll provide you with a quick-use guide.

Then, we will set up a template for our Google Doc and generate our Google Sheet data (don’t worry, I’ll share the document so you can follow along).

Finally, we will jump into the breakdown of the code for those legends who are learning how to create their own Google Apps Script.

Let’s get started:

Note: As always, take what you need and don’t worry about the rest. 

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Google Apps Script: Extract Specific Data From a PDF and insert it into a Google Sheet

Google Apps Script: DriveApp, Advanced Drive Service, SpreadsheetApp,  DocumentApp Javascript: spread operator, map, regex

Ah, bureaucracy at its finest.  Have you ever asked for a list from a client, another department or agency and instead of saving into a file that might even be considered marginally useful, they give it to you as a pdf. A… p…d…f.

Gee, thanks.

After some prostrations to the great Google Apps Script gods, I had a though.

“Hey, can’t we convert a PDF to a Google Doc with just a click of the button? Surely the great Google Apps Script devs have made it so we can do it programmatically too.”

And you know what? They bloody well did. The big legends.

The Scenario

I’ve just received a bunch of PDFs. The PFDs are all labelled by the class number. Take a look at the files in my Google Drive:

PDFs of sections in Google Drive

Each PDF file contains a list of student IDs that I need to extract and put into a Google Sheet.

PDF file with student IDs

The aim is to have a list of student IDs in column A and their corresponding sections in column B.

As you can see, we have some pretty standard text in the PDF that should be easy for Google to recognise so that we can extract the IDs.

The list of names in the demo sheets were randomly generated by AI!

NOTE! As always, I have tried to create this tutorial for varying levels. Feel free to follow along, or just grab what you need and get stuck into your own project.

If you are playing along, you can find a copy of the PDF files below. Simply add them to your own Drive before you get started:

PDF files by Section.

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Google Apps Script: Get Google Doc Text Based on Reference Characters

Google Apps Script: Google Docs, Document App. Javascript: Spread syntax, Set, IndexOf, Substring

So here is the scenario, imagine you have a big Google Doc. You want to get a list of information from the document that you have noticed are between two sets of characters. Maybe something like this:

  1. You want to grab all the quoted text in a story and you know that the quoted test is between two sets of quotation marks: “ ”.
  2. You want to grab citations or asides inside different braces, for example, [],{} or ().
  3. You are making a mail merger and you want to grab a specific list of words that the user put in that is to be substituted based on special character identifiers, for example, {{name}}, {{phone}}.
  4. You want to grab all the websites in a Google doc and you know they start will start with https:// and with .gov .

This tutorial provides a simple how-to do this.  Perhaps the code is exactly what you need for your project. We’ve set it up in a way that is easy to implement in your own project.

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