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I'm working on a Google Spreadsheet and I keep getting this message:

This spreadsheet is about to reach the following limits: Number of Columns

Google Docs Help says that the columns limit is of 256 columns and my document has only 14 columns, so I don’t know why Google is bothering me with this message. The document has 1.991 rows; Google does not say anything about rows limit.

Does anyone know if this is a bug or a known issue or something like that?

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  • Perhaps this is something from the past. Have you tried creating a new document (in Drive) and start all-over?
    – Jacob Jan
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 12:01
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    When you say your spreadsheet has only 14 columns - if you scroll right, what is the right-most column displayed? The column limit even applies to empty columns. To completely remove a column, right-click on the column header, and select Delete column. Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 14:27
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    @ Jacob Jan Tuinstra yes, it is a thing from the past. I didn't get thus message anymore Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 12:46
  • 5
    Possible duplicate of Google Sheets column limit? Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 22:51
  • if you right click and choose insert 1 right you can expand the number of columns. Also, you can highlight 10 columns then right click and insert 10 right. Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 18:43

3 Answers 3

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With the latest update of Google Drive size limits (Apr 2019), it says the following:

Spreadsheets: Up to 5 million cells for spreadsheets that are created in or converted to Google Sheets.

Simply ᴄᴏʟᴜᴍɴs × ʀᴏᴡs can't exceed 5 000 000 cells.
Additionally, the maximum number of columns can't exceed 18 278. According to Rubén

With the starting 26 columns (A-Z), the maximum height is 192 307, which is 4 999 982 cells

With the starting 1000 rows, a maximum of 500 000 columns is expected, but due to the second bound only 18 278 can be used.

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  • See my answer to Google Sheets column limit? Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 18:44
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    @Rubén, thank you for notifying me about this. I've added this information.
    – Liggliluff
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 14:11
  • As of Oct 19, 2018, the script from @Rubén 's linked answer gives an error that suggests the limitation is indeed 2,000,000 cells, with no maximum number of columns.
    – Matt Giles
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 21:39
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    The current limit is 5M cells.
    – TheMaster
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 16:11
  • @TheMaster, thank you for the update, I have now updated the answer
    – Liggliluff
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 11:51
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I was able to find a discussion of Google Docs size limits. It includes this section:

Spreadsheets: 400,000 cells, with a maximum of 256 columns per sheet. Uploaded spreadsheet files that are converted to Google spreadsheets format can’t be larger than 20MB, and need to be under 400,000 cells and 256 columns per sheet.

More information about spreadsheet size limits

If you're close to exceeding size limits, you'll see a message at the top of your spreadsheet that indicates which limit you're about to reach:

  • Number of Cells: Total of 400,000 cells across all sheets
  • Number of Columns: 256 columns per sheet
  • Number of Formulas: 40,000 cells containing formulas
  • Number of Tabs: 200 sheets per workbook
  • GoogleFinance formulas: 1,000 GoogleFinance formulas
  • ImportRange formulas: 50 cross-workbook reference formulas
  • ImportData, ImportHtml, ImportFeed, or ImportXml formulas: 50 functions for external data
  • Complexity: VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP formulas tend to be more complex than other functions, and may slow down your spreadsheet. After getting data points through VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP, try re-pasting them as "values only" to reduce spreadsheet size
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  • That's the same document I read and where I found about the documents limits Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 12:40
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    The discussion linked to on Drive Help no longer lists specifics regarding number of columns, and testing the supposed 256 column limitation reveals such a limitation doesn't actually exist: google-spreadsheets-max-number-of-columns-test
    – cssimsek
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 21:19
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Max number of columns is 18278, which is ZZZ in A1 notation.

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