Google Sheets – How to Add New Lines or Line Breaks in Cells 

Dave | November 15, 2022 |

You’ve seen spreadsheets where the text inside cells breaks across lines within the cell before, right? No, I’m not talking about wrapped text, I mean text where the author says when it starts a new line. Within the cell.

If you’ve not seen this before, then it might impress you, but when you know how to do it, it’s really quite easy.

Line breaks or new lines inside cells in Google Sheets
New lines inside cells, easy when you know how

When you are typing in a Google Doc, to get to the next line, you simply hit Enter () or Return. But if you do that inside a sheet cell all that will happen is you move down to the next cell.

How to go to the next line in a cell on Windows & ChromeOS

If you want to move to the next line inside the cell, you first have to put the cell into Edit mode. You can do this by selecting the cell and hitting Enter () . Alternatively, you can select the cell and click into the formula bar.

The formula bar for a selected cell with text
The formula bar for a selected cell with text

Once you have the cell in edit mode, move the cursor (arrow keys) to where you would like a like break and hit:

Alt + Enter (Win, ChromeOS) or Control + Option + Enter (Mac)

That’s all there is to it!

How to move to the next or previous cell after editing

Hit Enter () when you’ve finished editing a cell and Google Sheets will move your cursor automatically inside the next cell below the current cell on both Windows and ChromeOS.

Hit Shift + Enter when you’ve finished editing a cell and you’ll move to the next cell above your current cell.

How to add newlines in a cell on Android

When you’re using Google Sheets on Android, the enter key on the keypad is all you need to add a new line within a cell. Don’t confuse the enter key on the keypad with the tick symbol at the end of the function bar. One will add a newline the other will finish your edit and move you to the next cell. They are both highlighted in the screenshot below.

Google Sheets on Android, the enter button on the keypad highlighted green
Newline in a cell on Android, hit the green circled enter, not the red tick

How do you start a new line in a cell on iPad, iPhone or Mac?

On an iPad or iPhone, there is no easy way of entering a line break or soft return using the keypad. The only practical solution to breaking lines within a cell is to use a formula that concatenates text with the character code for a newline: char(10).

You start the formula with the equals sign, enter your text in double quotes and use the ampersand (&) symbol to join pieces of text to the newline character code char(10).

="This line of text breaks here >"&char(10)&"and here >"&char(10)&"It's as easy as that"Code language: JavaScript (javascript)

On a Mac you should have the same capabilities as Windows or ChromeOS and Shift + Enter () will work.

How do you add line breaks in a formula? char(10)

In order to use line breaks, new lines or soft returns within a formula you need to type them in as part of the formula definition. Google Sheets has a function that allows you to enter any Unicode character using its code. That is the CHAR function.

CHAR takes 1 parameter, the number of the Unicode character to return in DECIMAL format. Many lists of Unicode characters show hexadecimal, so make sure you either first convert to decimal using HEX2DEC or look at a table that shows decimal codes.

If you look at the Unicode character table of control codes on Wikipedia, you can see that the decimal code for line feed is 10. So CHAR(10) will return a line feed (or new line) into our formula.

So below we can use CHAR to insert line breaks into a formula by concatenating quoted text strings and newlines together using ampersand (&).

="This line of text breaks here >"&char(10)&"and here >"&char(10)&"It's as easy as that"Code language: JavaScript (javascript)
Screenshot of a formula containing char(10) to add newlines to text
Line breaks in a formula

You can also use the CHAR function to insert any other characters found in those Unicode tables into a Google Sheet, as below where we use char(937) and char(928) to add the Greek symbols Omega and Sigma into a cell.

Use CHAR to add Greek symbols Omega and Sigma into a formula
Omega and Sigma using CHAR

I'm a Google Product Expert and mainly post on the subject of Google Sheets.

I've been a software engineer for over 20 years. The constant through all that time? Spreadheets.... Even though I can write programs I use them.... a lot. Sometimes there's just no better alternative!

Find out more about me here.

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