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How to Merge Cells in Google Sheets

October 25, 2020

Google Sheets has become the spreadsheet tool of choice for many analysts, in part due to its accessibility and collaboration features. Let’s take a closer look at how to perform a common function in Google Sheet: merging cells. More importantly, read on to learn how to merge cells in Google Sheets without losing data

How to Combine Cells in Google Sheets

Merge All 

The Merge All feature combines all of the selected cells into one big cell. You can only merge all cells if they’re next to each other. If the cells aren’t continuous, the option to merge all won’t be available. 

  1. Select the cells you want to merge
  2. Click ‘Format’ in the top menu bar
  3. Select ‘Merge Cells’
  4. Choose ‘Merge All’

Merge Horizontally

This feature merges all the cells in a row but maintains the columns. If you only select one row, merging horizontally will do essentially the same thing as merging all. 

  1. Select the cells you want to merge
  2. Click ‘Format’
  3. Select ‘Merge Cells’
  4. Choose ‘Merge Horizontally’

Merge Vertically

Merging vertically will combine the columns while maintaining the rows. It’ll be identical to merging all if you only select one column. 

  1. Select the cells you want to merge
  2. Click ‘Format’
  3. Select ‘Merge Cells’
  4. Choose ‘Merge Vertically’

How to Unmerge Cells in Google Sheets

Unmerging cells will revert the cells back to their original columns and rows.

  1. Select all of the cells you want to unmerge
  2. Click on ‘Format’
  3. Select ‘Merge Cells’
  4. Choose the ‘Unmerge’ option

Challenges with Merging Cells

Though merging cells in Google Sheets is an excellent function, it has its limitations. Here are some of the challenges to look out for when merging cells in Google Sheets: 

  • You can’t sort columns with merged cells. If your column has at least one merged cell, you’ll get an error message if you try to filter or sort the column. Not being able to sort columns can be a hindrance in analysis. It can also add time to the process because you’d have to sort data manually.
  • You can’t select cells in a column without selecting merged cells. If you try to select a cell that’s in the same column as a merged cell, Google Sheets will automatically select the merged cell as well. This problem can be irritating when you’re trying to quickly select and organize data.
  • You can’t copy and paste merged cells without copying formatting. If you copy a merged cell and paste it, you’ll automatically paste the merged cells formatting as well. To avoid pasting the formatting, you have to copy the text and numbers as a value. 

Google Sheets or Modern Data Preparation Platforms? 

Google Sheets is an excellent spreadsheet tool to use with small amounts of structured data. However, analysts are increasingly working with bigger, more complex data. And that kind of data doesn’t bode well for spreadsheets tools of any kind. 

For example, spreadsheet tools weren’t built to unnest JSON Twitter data. Or quickly standardize the many ways that “California” could be represented in over a million rows of data. In those instances, many analysts have turned to data preparation platforms. 

Trifacta is the industry-leading data preparation platform, built to handle any size or type of data. Its machine-learning powered platform acts as an invisible hand during the data preparation process, guiding users towards the best possible transformation. Its visual interface automatically surfaces errors, outliers, and missing data, and it allows users to quickly edit or redo any transformation. And just like Google Sheets, it offers extensive collaboration features so that users can work together in the data preparation process. 

To see how Trifacta can improve data preparation for a CDP, request a demo or get started with Trifacta today.