By default, a cell in Google Sheets displays its content in a single line format, which makes sense for the kind of numeric data typically found in spreadsheets, like quantities, prices, and percentages. But what happens if you want to display information that spans multiple lines, like a mailing address or a list?
Adding a line break or carriage return in Google Sheets isn't hard, but it isn't necessarily intuitive. In Google Docs, adding a line break to a document is as simple as hitting
Enter, but if you try the same trick in Sheets you'll just end up jumping to the cell below. Don't take your frustration out on an innocent keyboard – let's take a look at a few different ways to add line breaks in Google Sheets.
Adding Simple Line Breaks with Keyboard Shortcuts
The simplest and easiest way to add a line break in Google Sheets is by using keyboard shortcuts. The shortcut you use will differ slightly depending on your operating system:
To use this method, just click into the cell you'd like to add a line break to and hit the appropriate keyboard shortcut. This will move your cursor down to the next line within the same cell. Easy peasy!
Adding a Line Break with CHAR(10)
Now, let's take a look at how to add a line break to a Google Sheets cell with the CHAR function, which allows you to insert a character in a document by referencing its Unicode value in decimal format. To add a line break with this function, click into the formula field and enter
CHAR(10) to reference the newline (or line break) character, whose Unicode decimal value is 10.
At this point, you may be wondering why anyone would go through this fuss to enter a line break instead of just hitting
Enter. In practice, you probably wouldn't actually use this function to add a simple line break in a text-only cell, but it comes in handy for more complex operations – say, if you want to compile data from multiple cells into a list:
It's also the only way to add a line break in Google Sheets for iOS:
If you're playing on home turf with Google Sheets for Android, you have things a little easier: you can insert a line break by pressing
Enter after a letter in a cell or copying and pasting a line break character from another document or a character map.
Adding Line Breaks in Google Sheets Formulas
You can use the same keyboard shortcuts you'd use to create a line break within a cell to create a line break within the formula itself. This is very handy if you've got a formula that's so long or complicated that it's hard to read on one line – adding line breaks will make it more readable without affecting its functionality in any way. Just click into the formula field and hit
Return anywhere you'd like to add a break:
Having issues with Sheets failing to save changes to your formatting once you exit the formula field? This is a known issue which you can get around by adding a case change or do-nothing equation to your formula. Yes, it looks dumb. Yes, it feels goofy. Yes, it works.
Enabling Text Wrapping
Finally, let's find out how to automatically wrap content within a cell, which is useful if your Sheets document contains large blocks of text. To enable text wrapping, click on the cell or cells that you want to apply it to and go to Format > Text Wrapping > Wrap in the Menu Bar. Depending on your operating system, you may also be able to use a keyboard shortcut to enable text wrapping:
- Mac: Sorry, no shortcut!
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