Why does the Google Sheets documentation for functions incorrectly use commas instead of semicolons to separate parameters?

For example, the documentation for =SORT gives the usage example:

=SORT(A2:B26, 1, TRUE)

whereas I need to replace the commas with semicolons for the formula to work:

=SORT(A2:B26; 1; TRUE)

Comma syntax did not work at all but caused formula parse errors and massive headaches before I learnt about it.

The function help is being called from within a spreadsheet in the web application that uses a German locale, but it is the US documentation that is being shown. This behavior is also happening in the mobile IOS app.


2 Answers 2


Because for most of Google's users in the U.S., commas are the correct parameter separators. It's only for places like the EU where you need to use semi-colons instead.

(I expect that it's because a comma is a decimal separator in those places, but I'm really just guessing.)

Google seems a bit inconsistent in their language-specific help pages. (See, for instance, this answer.)


Short answer

In general sense, the documentation isn't wrong regarding the use of comma or semicolon as function argument separators.


The separator use in function documentation varies according to the language. In example, the IF function documentation shows comma for English, and semicolon for Spanish and Italian, just to mention a couple of non-English languages.

By the other hand, on a web browser, the function argument separator for some locales could be either a comma or semicolon but it will be changed automatically accordingly to the spreadsheet locale setting. One of this locales is Mexico.

I just tested this, again, using a Chromebook and worked as I described above

Steps to reproduce

  1. Go to http://sheets.google.com/create to create a new spreadsheet . In my case this creates a spreadsheet using the Mexico locale. Additional note, I have enable the Always use functions names in English.

  2. On A1 write =AND(TRUE;FALSE), the result is FALSE

  3. On A2 write =AND(TRUE,FALSE), the result is FALSE

Considering the above, the documentation isn't wrong. Maybe we could say that it's not complete or it's not clear enough, as there isn't a note or help article about the use of comma and semicolon on Google Sheets functions.

Changing the local to Germany, the automatically change of the argument separator doesn't occur.


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