Google Docs and QR Codes

Google Docs is great. It allows you to create whatever you want and store it on the cloud so that you can edit it anywhere. Earlier today I needed to input a list of around 30 contacts from a Google spreadsheet into my phone. I did about 4 and then realized I really didn’t want to spend the next hour typing names and numbers. I did some googling and found a few references to embedding QR codes in spreadsheets, but none of them could be used for contacts (vCard format). It turns out that if I take the code that I found, it can be fairly easily modified to allow for vCards. First, I used an online QR code generator to make a sample contact code. This let me understand the format of a vCard.

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After a bit more wikipedia-ing and some research on html/url formatting, I rewrote the spreadsheet equation. When I entered it into a sample contact list, it worked!

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What’s great is that each code automatically updates as soon as one of its source cells is changed. For example, in the screenshot above, Carlos Danger doesn’t have an email address. After adding one, tho, his QR code automatically updates.

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Ultimately, this saves a load of time for anyone who needs to put a lot of contacts into their phone. It’s super easy to use, and it looks pretty! Pair it with Google Goggles and you’ve just freed up some time to go and do some other awesome thing. I might come back and explain this more in the future, but I’m quite busy with classes and, as always, really lazy. Here’s the code, tho, and please feel free to modify it however you like to make your spreadsheets that much more futuristic.

Example spreadsheet: Google Docs QR Contacts

YouTube video: Google Docs and QR Codes

=image("https://chart.googleapis.com/chart?chs=200x200&cht=qr&chl=BEGIN:VCARD%0AN:" & A2 & "%20" & B2 & "%0ATEL;CELL:" & C2 & "%0AEMAIL:" & D2 & "%0AEND:VCARD")
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57 thoughts on “Google Docs and QR Codes

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  10. Hey Jordi,

    This is interesting. I tried to recreate this in another spreadsheet and this shows me an error “Circular Dependency detected”. Any help would be appreciated.

    • It’s difficult for me to help you without seeing it, but is it possible that the formula is referencing the wrong cells? It could be accidentally referencing itself, so check for that. If that isn’t the problem, you might want to try first recreating my example spreadsheet exactly, and then modifying it from there.

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  22. Hi, nice work! The problem is in iPhone, when I try to save the contact both first and last name are saved to the last name field… help?

  23. Thanks!
    I’ve used your script to create some QR code, but I would like to create labels from it, is there a way to push the images in any way that would allow me to create labels afterward?

    • If you’d like to use the generated images on labels, you can save each QR code to your computer (as a PNG image) and from there print them, or alternatively print the whole spreadsheet.

  24. Hi Jordi,

    Thanks for sharing your work. It will be very useful to my company.
    However, I would ask if there is a way to insert more data (other columns, like “Company” and “Address”) in the spreadsheet to create the qr code.
    Tks from Brazil …

    • Hello, I’m glad I can help!
      Here’s a quick bit of code that includes the “Company” and “Address” fields:

      =image("https://chart.googleapis.com/chart?chs=200x200&cht=qr&chl=BEGIN:VCARD%0AN:" & A7 & "%20" & B7 & "%0AORG:" & C7 & "%0ATEL;CELL:" & D7 & "%0AADR;WORK:;;" & E7 & ",%20" & F7 & "%20" & G7 & ",%20" & H7 & ",%20" & I7 & "%0AEMAIL:" & J7 & "%0AEND:VCARD")

      I’ve also updated the sample Google Doc above with the extended code. I recommend reading the Wikipedia article on the vCard format (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VCard).

      Best of luck, and don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any more questions!

      • Tks man, this will help me a lot.

        So, I have one more question. I wanna take attendance of my students using qr codes. Any idea how can i make this happen?

        Regards

      • A quick Google search turns up something called “QR Bubble” which looks good, but you’ll have to just do some searching to find something suitable. Best of luck!

      • Tks man, this will definitely help me.

        So, If i can, I have one more question. I wanna take attendance of my students using qr codes. Any idea on how to do this? And if there is possible to take attendance with qr codes, you known if I could use the same code generated in Google Docs?

        Best Regards

      • You’ll have to check out those products I recommended. I would assume that they use their own method to create QR codes, but you’ll just have to see.
        Good Luck!

  25. Hello Jordi,

    The QR Bubble is project is under development, but I’ll get in touch with the developers to get more information.

    Thanks for the help.

    Regards,

      • Hi Jordi,

        I’m having some trouble deploying qr code.

        Could you tell me how I can split first and last name, because both are appearing in the last name field on the Iphone.

        I read the article about vCard on Wikipedia and saw that we can also add photo. Can you tell me how it would look this code to googledocs.

        sorry for so many requests …

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  27. Jordi, this was excellent. Question: Let’s say that after I generate a QR code for each individual contact, that I print each contact out on a card. What I would like to be able to do is scan the QR code and have the information added to a database. In your research, have you ever done this? Have you come across something like this that can be used in Google Docs? Thanks in advance for the assistance.

    • First off sorry for the incredibly late reply. As for what you want to do, I would imagine it would be possible to write a simple Android app that scans the QR code and decodes the embedded VCard, and then takes that information and puts it into a database of your choosing. As for how you’d actually do any of that, I would try looking around the web for examples of some QR reader code for Android or something and see if you can use it to help you.

    • Hello qcarson. I had the same problem. After generating the QR code at google docs I could not export the images to be used on a card for example.
      If you can, please let me know how to do it.

      Regards,
      Marcelo Noce

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    I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog aand look forwaard too neew updates.

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