I have one spreadsheet in Google Sheets with data like:


I want to paste this in another Google Sheets but when I use ctrl+c ctrl+v the data is formatted like numbers:


I want conserve the string format.

With right-click copy-paste I can't copy between spreadsheets.

Tested in Firefox and Chromium.

  • 1
    Very strange... Edit>Copy and Edit>Paste do not actually copy/paste anything between spreadsheets! Yet the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V (which are allocated to these menu items) do copy the values, but lose all formatting!
    – MrWhite
    Aug 24, 2012 at 10:15

5 Answers 5


Place a single quote (') in front of the zeros before you copy the cells.

If you need to apply this to lots of cells, set the contents of one cell to ' and use CONCAT to populate a new column with the ' and the cell contents.

If A1 is ' and the values you want to copy start in B1:

Set C1 to =CONCAT($A$1, $B1) and fill the formula down.

  • this doesn't work if the numbers have leading 0s due to the number format of the cells :/
    – Salix
    Oct 7, 2020 at 17:52
  • Well, maybe it did 8 years ago lol. Now the copy/paste works for that, but in case someone else stumble here because they wanted to concat the number with a string and still have the leading 0s, you can do '=TEXT($B1, "0000")'.
    – Salix
    Oct 7, 2020 at 18:01

The only workaround I see: press ' before pasting. It will preserve string format.

Pasting in the same spreadsheet preserves formatting. Pasting into another, says Pasting from web clipboard...


I had a similar problem and found a good solution.

Copy the table to some simple text editor that supports regex. I used notepad++. Then insert the decimal separator before the numbers. Then you can copy the table to the spreadsheet.

E.g. if you have 3 digits without a decimal separator in front, you search replace using (\d\d\d) and .\1.


I found another method that worked. Just save the file to a CSV format. Close and reopen the file, but choose to format columns as text. I have done it with Libre Office.

  1. copy the cells using Ctrl+C

  2. go to the target spreadsheet

  3. highlight the cells you want to paste them on

  4. go to FORMAT > NUMBERS > and click PLAIN TEXT at the bottom (this formats the cells to text fields before you paste)

  5. paste using Ctrl+V on the cells

  • 1
    This don't work, neither Firefox nor Chromium Oct 26, 2012 at 14:10
  • If it didn't work before, it works now. I pasted a large sheet of data from LibreOffice Calc into a Google Sheet, then selected the entire column that contained the broken numeric strings, pasted again over the top of the existing data and the leading zeroes were back.
    – Walf
    Sep 7, 2020 at 7:10

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