I am currently using Google Sheets to organize and update the keywords I use in Adobe Lightroom (Photo organizing software) I'm trying to organize my keywords into hierarchies to make it easier to navigate, think Animals>Mammals>Dogs>Mixed-Breed Dogs. This is how it's laid out in Google sheets:

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In case it isn't clear, the keywords that will appear under each keyword header are listed one row down and one column over. So going back to my first example, Animals would be in cell A1, Mammals would be B2, Dogs would be C3, and Mixed-Breed Dogs would be D4. Keyword synonyms are contained in curly brackets and likewise listed one row down and one column over. So with Mixed-Breed Dogs we would have listed in column E, starting from E5, terms like "mutt", "mongrel", "uncertain breed" listed and contained in brackets.

I now have two questions:

  1. Is there a way to "parent" cells, so that when the parent cells are sorted the child cells maintain their relative position? For instance, if I want to reverse alphabetize the keywords in Column B of my picture, is there a way to link the words in Column C to move with them and retain their row/column order?

  2. Is there a way to automatically add curly brackets around a cell value? I don't want to have to manually click on each cell and type in brackets around each individual synonym.

1 Answer 1



You should include all the relevant data in each row. Properly populating the row data will allow it to maintain meaning regardless how you sort or filter the data.

Sample Table


You would apply a custom number format to the cell(s)/row(s)/column(s) to which it should apply.

Custom number formats can be specified individually for numbers (positive, negative, and zero) as well as for non-numeric/text. You can specify a format format for all or some in the following order separated by semicolons:


To specify only the value for your text strings you would apply:

;;;"[~"@"]" applied to 'Setting' = '[~Setting]'    
;;;"{"@"}" applied to 'backdrop' = '{backdrop}'    

'@' is the marker for where the text goes in the custom format.

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