I have a Google Form featuring an ID number and a checkbox field capable of generating multiple choices, anywhere from 1 to 4.
I export this data to a Google spreadsheet.

When multiple checkboxes are ticked, the output goes into a single field with comma separators. I've created a second sheet in which I split that data using Split('TAB_REFERENCE!A1',"TRUE, TRUE) into a sheet that looks like this:

enter image description here

I now want to query that data to display ID numbers associated with each of the elements, to look like this:

enter image description here

I've tried multiple boolean OR statements in a filter, Pivot tables, and a half dozen bad ideas.

I can't use ArrayForumula because the element count varies. I know this is solvable but as my headline suggests, I can't even articulate the problem succinctly enough to get good search results. It's like a transpose of part of a row into columns of unique values with the index value displayed under the columns it matches. Help!

2 Answers 2


I think this relatively simple single formula can do it without a separate tab to do the splitting. I also made a sample sheet here. On the MK.Help tab, you'll find this formula in cell B2.

=ARRAYFORMULA(TRANSPOSE(SPLIT(TRANSPOSE(QUERY(IF(REGEXMATCH('Form Responses 1'!C2:C5,B1:E1),'Form Responses 1'!B2:B5,),,9^9))," ")))

Hopefully you can figure out which references correspond to the correct ones on your real sheet.

  • BOOM! What kind of sorcery is this?????? I can vary the field assignments and watch it work, but I can't parse why. Transpose. Then Split. Then transpose again based on a match. AH, I see it now as I follow the bouncing ball, but I would never in a million years have been able to construct that. Thanks for the wizardry. And out of curiosity, what's the 9^9 doing to the regexmatch?
    – brianfit
    Feb 14, 2020 at 7:41
  • Glad it worked for you! the 9^9 is actually not part of the regexmatch, it's in the query() 9^9 is just an arbitrarily large number 9 to the 9th power, what it does is concatenate all the output from the IF(REGEXMATCH()... ) . the query function automatically concatenates as many "header" rows as you specify in a given array. this allows me to bunch all the IDs together, so they can get split back out, thus getting rid of the problematic spaces...
    – MattKing
    Feb 14, 2020 at 19:16

You can do it with several simple formulas if you can use multiple steps :

  1. first you need to transpose the data

enter image description here

  1. then add a row with the animals
  2. use this formula =IF(COUNTIF(H$2:H$5,$G8),H$1,) ($ are very important for easy formula-dragging)
  3. transpose a second time
  4. you're done

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Test sheet

  • 1
    Thanks!!!!! This works, and it meets the needs I laid out in the question, but it has the disadvantage of the results being scattered down the columns with gaps. My bad, I failed to note one of my goals was to have a contiguous set of results beneath the ID (there's a cut and paste operation I'm trying to do on the data that won't tolerate blanks). Another operation to filter the blanks would have nailed it, but @MattKing's answer does everything in one formula.
    – brianfit
    Feb 14, 2020 at 7:32
  • No worry, @MattKing's answer is obviously better :)
    – pjmg
    Feb 14, 2020 at 7:44

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