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I have a couple of Google Spreadsheets I use to generate config files for things. The config file data ends up in a single cell, which is copied and pasted.

Problem is Google Sheets has this odd behavior where " marks get doubled into "" if there's a \n line break character, if it's a formula cell. If it's values, you can copy them right out of the cell editor without trouble.

for example a cell containing:

"foo"
"woo"

copies our of the cell editor as

"foo"
"woo"

but if a formula cell say ="""foo"""char(10)"""woo""" copies as

""foo""
""woo""

And if you try to copy it by editor, you get the formula. How to fix this?

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  • Noticed it removed some line breaks. ""foo"" and ""woo"" should on separate lines. This makes the question more confusing. I edited the question to fix it
    – netsplit
    Oct 20 at 15:46
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The key to the issue is it's formulas that produce the output. So what you need to do is find a way to make your output go to a cell containing only values. That sounds nuts, but there's actually a way to do it. Use arrayformula to write the output in a different cell.

=ARRAYFORMULA(if(row(A1:A2)=2,{your formula},"output")

put that in a1, it'll write the output to a2

=ARRAYFORMULA(if(row(A1:A2)=2,"""foo"""&char(10)&"""woo""","output")

if copied and pasted from a2 in edit mode, the result would be:

"foo"
"woo"

Note you have to double click the a2 to edit it, and then copy the text

Other suggestions I saw mentioned using char(13) for a line break, but that isn't a valid line break in some systems and breaks things.

Just wanted to put this on the internet because I didn't see it anywhere else, in the hopes it helps someone in a similar boat in the future.

4
  • 2
    Well, yes. It's the double click the cell to edit it, and then copy the text bit that makes the difference, rather than whether the cell contains an array formula result or a literal value. When you copy a cell that contains a line break, you get quotes around the text, regardless of whether you are using an array formula. When you copy a value that contains a line break, you do not get quotes. To copy a value, open the cell for editing before copying. The value in a fill-down formula cell cannot be copied this way because you are then editing the formula rather than the value. Oct 20 at 17:01
  • Thanks I've updated the answer with that info to improve it
    – netsplit
    Oct 20 at 20:25
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    will it also work by selecting (in this case) cell A2 and then using Ctrl+C to copy the result to the clipboard?
    – 24601
    Oct 21 at 9:26
  • That's exactly how it works. It writes the output to cell A2 as plain text. You have to click into A2 and select it all
    – netsplit
    Oct 24 at 14:07

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