Another Google Sheets Tip – Find Non-Standard Characters


flickr photo shared by Lynn Friedman under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

We’re still messing with manipulating data in Google Sheets. I hate to think of humans going through and manually parsing things that the machine should do so I’m putting all this out in the hopes of saving someone somewhere some time. It’s also meant to help our internal people see how it works so it might be more broadly applied.

In this case, we’re just looking for a line break and using that to cut out a chunk of text. This Stack Overflow post gave me the char(10) piece so I could find the line break. You can see the details above and more on unicode characters here. It’s broken in two pieces for clarity. Piece one finds the number of characters prior to the line break. The second piece takes that number of letters from the left.

I find manipulating text in spreadsheets to be a constant and practical use of algebra.

Comments on this post

  1. CogDog said on August 14, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Loving these examples. There is some potential in maybe teaching some of this as problem solving by developing pattern matching approaches? Given a pile of text, how to find X? This one is great because it’s a 2 stepper- how do you find the first email address in a blob of text, and then how to get the full string?

    • Tom Woodward said on August 14, 2015 at 11:11 am

      I was actually talking to a math department chair at a high school in Chicago about this. I think its has strong possibilities for teaching mathematical/computational thinking. We might even have some options here with a really interesting department chair who has his kids in Montessori with my kids.

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