I have two columns in a Google sheet: an ID column with a single value per cell and Color column with an arbitrary number of comma separated values per cell. I'd like to expand the Color column so each value is in its own cell, while retaining their associated IDs. This is illustrated in the attached image, and in this worksheet.

I'm looking for a script or formulas to perform this operation on an array with ~30,000 rows. My clumsy solution (below and in second tab of worksheet) gives an error above about 1000 rows, as the length of a string made by join() is limited to 50,000 characters:

Create a list of repeated ID's with the same number of elements as as the list of colors in column C

=rept(A4&",",COUNTA(split(B4,", ",false)))

Concatenate each column then split each column:

=transpose(split(join(", ",B4:B),", ",false))

enter image description here

  • Thanks, I've clarified the question to specify that I need to process 30,000 rows. Mar 31, 2016 at 16:36
  • Yes, Ruben, there could be spaces within the keywords in the color column, like 'light blue'. But I could work with a solution that didn't allow for this. Apr 1, 2016 at 16:26
  • Does my answer worked for you? Oct 14, 2016 at 16:21

1 Answer 1


For the OP example try the following formula:

SUBSTITUTE(B4:B6,", ",","),"^"&REPT(",+[^,]+",

For the 30,000 rows:

  • Change the references accordingly.
  • Replace 1000 by 30000 or a larger number.
    • The 1000 is the headers argument of QUERY(data,query,[headers]). We want use a number big enough to include all the rows of the source data.
  • If the second column of the source data has rows with more than 6 items, replace the 6 in OFFSET(A1,,,1,6) by the corresponding number of items.

See the reference for further details.


JOINing code-points after CHAR conversion in Google Spreadsheets

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.