Kumu Help Docs


Kumu's import feature makes it possible to map your existing data, without recreating every bit of it by hand. Whether your data is in Excel, a comma-separated values (CSV) file, or Google Sheets, you can follow this guide to quickly bring it into Kumu.

Structure your data for Kumu

Before you can import your data into Kumu, you'll need to structure your spreadsheet so that Kumu can read it. First, make sure your spreadsheet contains the following required column headers:
For elements
  • Label (must be in the first cell of Column A)
For connections
  • From (must be in the first cell of Column A)
  • To (must be in the first cell of Column B)
After you create the required column headers, you can start filling out the rows to create new elements and connections. You can also optionally add more columns to hold custom data:
For elements
  • Type
  • Description
  • Tags
  • Organization
  • Net worth
For connections
  • Type
  • Description
  • Tags
  • Label
  • Strength
All of these optional columns can be used to add data to fields inside your elements and connections. If you want to store multiple values inside of one cell (for example, tags or keywords), just separate each value with the pipe character |. If you put multiple elements in the "To" cell of a connection, separating each element with the pipe character |, Kumu will draw a connection from the "From" element to each separate element in the "To" cell.
It's also possible to use ID as the first column header in element and connection sheets. To learn how and why you would do that, check out our guide on avoiding duplicate data.
Here's a sample element import spreadsheet:
Jeff Mohr
Co-Founder and CEO, always up for learning
A web-based platform for mapping relationships...
And here's a sample connection import spreadsheet:
Ed Snowden
It's complicated
Get your hands dirty! Click here to download a sample import file for the PayPal Mafia map. You can examine this file to see how imports work with real data before creating your import file.
If you need to convert an adjacency matrix to meet Kumu's format, see our "How do I restructure my adjacency matrix" FAQ.

Ignore unneeded sheets

Sometimes, you'll have other sheets in your Excel or Google Sheets workbook that aren't formatted for Kumu and shouldn't be imported, but need to stay in the workbook. If that's the case, just add (ignore) to the name of the sheet, and Kumu will ignore it during the upload.

Import from Excel or CSV

After you've structured your data, save your spreadsheet file with either the .xslx or .csv extension (Kumu doesn't support the .xls file extension).
Then, you can import that file into Kumu in two different ways:
1) Simply drag and drop the file onto the map's canvas.
2) Click the green button at the bottom of your map, select Import, and click "Select .xslx file" (this button works for .csv files as well)
Either way, you'll have the option to review the import before finalizing to double-check that everything imported correctly. After you review the import, just click save, and you're all set!
Seeing errors during your Excel import? You can use the common pitfalls section of this guide to help troubleshoot.

Import from Google Sheets

Our Google Sheets integration populates a map using the contents of a spreadsheet hosted on Google Drive. Since Google Sheets can be opened up to the general public for editing, this integration is a great way to crowdsource maps without having to give everyone full edit access to the project on Kumu.
There are two versions of the Google Sheets integration, private and public. Private is more secure and uses oAuth to authorize Kumu to access the sheet, while the public integration requires you to make your data publicly viewable on the internet.
Seeing errors during your Google Sheets import? You can use the common pitfalls section of this guide to help troubleshoot.

Private Google Sheets Instructions

  1. 1.
    Create your spreadsheet in Google Drive
  2. 3.
    Copy the private spreadsheet link from the URL bar in your browser, and go back to your Kumu map
  3. 4.
    Click the green button, select Import, and click the "Google Sheets" tab
  4. 5.
    Under Link to private Google Sheet, paste your Google Sheets link into the box

Public Google Sheets Instructions

  1. 1.
    Create your spreadsheet in Google Drive
  2. 3.
    Click the "Share" button in the upper right
  3. 4.
    Click "Get shareable link"
  4. 5.
    Set the permissions to "On - public on the web (Anyone on the internet can find and access. No sign-in required.)"
  5. 6.
    Copy the shareable link URL, and go back to your Kumu map
  6. 7.
    Click the green button, select Import, and click the "Google Sheets" tab
  7. 8.
    Paste your Google Sheets link into the box under Link to public Google Sheet

Caveats for the Google Sheets integration

Unlike file-based imports, the Google Sheets integration is an ongoing import. The elements and connections will be fetched from the spreadsheet on the fly each time you refresh the page. None of the data will be saved to your project or Kumu's servers, and the imported elements and connections are read-only within Kumu. All edits must be made within the spreadsheet.
  • Elements and connections are read-only within Kumu—all edits to the underlying data must be made within the spreadsheet.
  • You can't pin elements in place when they're created from a Google Sheet.

Common pitfalls

Having trouble with your import? If Kumu is giving you an error message, click on the triangular error icon to see what is wrong. If Kumu just loads indefinitely, there's also likely something wrong with the format of your sheet(s). Here are a few common pitfalls...

Not starting your file with the correct column headers

Label should be the first column header in your spreadsheet (cell A1) for an element import, and for a connection import, you should have From and To in the first two columns (cells A1 and B1). The only exception to this is when you're using IDs in the first column, please read more about that here

Not having column headers in the first row

Your column headers (e.g. Label, Type, Description, etc.) should be in row 1 of your spreadsheet.

Not ignoring unneeded sheets

If you have multiple sheets in your file, and you only want to import some, make sure that Kumu ignores the other sheets when importing. To do this, you can add (ignore) to sheet names—for example: Sheet 3 (ignore). Also make sure to double-check if you have any hidden sheets in your file!

Hidden data in unused cells

If it seems like your spreadsheet is taking forever to load, or it's consistently throwing errors, you might have some data or formatting hiding in your unused cells. To clear all content and formatting from unused cells in Excel, follow this Excel guide.

Trying to import .xls files

If you run into this error message...
Sorry, there was an error with your import. Error: Import format not recognized: auto
...you're trying to import an .xls file. Save it as .xlsx and try again!

Importing an Excel file in Google Drive as a Google Sheet

If you add an XLSX file to Google Drive, it will still open as an Excel sheet, only inside Google Drive. Make sure you're file is actually a Google Sheet by clicking on "Open with" at the top of the page and choosing Google Sheets, or by clicking File in the top-left corner and then choose "Save as Google Sheets". You can enter that sheet's link as your Google Sheet link.

Funny character issues?

If you're running into funny character issues, please make sure your import file is UTF-8 encoded.

Master Imports in 5 Steps

Looking to hone your importing skills? These tips will turn you into a master importer:

1. Separate elements (or element types) and connections into their own sheets

Since elements and connections often have very different sets of fields, we recommend using separate sheets in your workbook for each dataset. Sometimes, you'll have different types of elements (for example, people and organizations) that have very different fields. In that case, you can separate those elements into separate sheets as well. Each separate sheet can have different column headers, and Kumu will still be able to read and understand each sheet.
If you prefer keeping everything within a single sheet, you can use two blank rows to tell Kumu that a new section is starting—that is, Kumu should look at the first row of the new section to find column headers. If you are using a .csv file, this tip doesn't work—you'll need to either use the single sheet method or create separate files for elements and connections.

2. Take advantage of pre-named fields

Our pre-named fields aren't required in your spreadsheet, but they get special visual treatment in profiles, so it's great to use them when you can!
TypeUse the type field to categorize elements and connections. Common element types include person, project, and company. Common connection types include personal, business, and family. Try to be selector friendly with your types, when you can.DescriptionThe description field designed to hold longer-form content that describes an item. Descriptions can include multiple paragraphs, and even images and videos. You can use Markdown to format each description's content.TagsThe tags field is designed to hold multiple values that each describe your item in a different way. For example, a connection between a person and a non-profit might have "Strong relationship", "Board Member", "Donor", and "Advocate" all stored as separate values in the Tags field, adding rich detail to that person's relationship with the non-profit. Make sure to separate multiple tags using a pipe "|" in your spreadsheet cells, and try to be selector friendly with your tags, when you can.ImageInclude an image URL and Kumu will display it on the map and in the profile.EmailAdd an email and Kumu will automatically include their gravatar on the map and in the profile. Gravatars can be a huge time saver when working with social network data!

3. Use pipes to separate multiple values

For columns with multiple values in a single cell (such as tags, skills, hobbies, etc), you need to separate them using the pipe character |. If you're already separating them using commas, just use find-and-replace to swap out the commas for the pipe character | before importing.

4. Try to be selector friendly

Selectors provide a simple way to slice up your data. By keeping your field names and values selector-friendly, you'll be able to write much shorter queries.
Use single words for your element types, connection types, and tags. By doing so you'll be able to use shorthand selectors in the Advanced Editor, such as:
  • person To select all elements with type "Person"
  • personal-connection To select all connections with type "Personal"
  • project.priority To select all projects tagged "priority"
If you include special characters or multiple words, you'll have to use longer selector code instead (e.g. ["element type"="Government Sector"])—and that's just not nearly as much fun!

5. Ask for help!

Still have questions? Having trouble structuring your data? Let us know! We've massaged a lot of data to get it into Kumu's format, and we're happy to help.