Google Sheets Formula Parse Error – How To Fix

Posted by Joseph on November 17, 2018

The analysis, categorization, and understanding of syntax can be broken down and compartmentalized by performing a parsing function. The process of parsing consists of a text analysis dissection, where the text is made up of a sequence of tokens, that determines its grammatical structure. The parser will then build a structure based on the data received. To simplify, parsing is just taking a larger structure and dividing it up into separate components for easier storage or manipulation.

At times it’s not uncommon to run a parse and wind up with an error. When something like this occurs, you’re prompted with a generated parse error to alert you that something may be off with your formula. There are a few different reasons for a parse to produce an error. A parse error may happen for any of the following reasons:

  • You’re attempting to parse data from a file that doesn’t exist.
  • There’s an error within the data you’re trying to parse. This can occur while downloading a file containing the parse data. If this is the case and downloading the file is what caused the parse error, you can try downloading the file an additional time or search for one that has been updated. You can also try downloading the file from a different site, if possible.
  • The file’s parsing data may not be compatible with the operating system or program being used. Make sure to check prior to downloading the file.
  • Permissions may be insufficient or those that enable you to access the file’s data have not yet been granted. Request the necessary permissions and if granted, attempt to parse the data again.
  • You lack the sufficient amount of disk space needed for the parse resulting in a parse error being generated. When writing a file to a hard drive or USB, ensure that the drive consists of enough space for the parsed data results. You may also choose to move the file being parsed or run it to your hard drive if it is a parse being run from removable media.


Parse Errors On Spreadsheet Formulas Like Google Sheets

If the spreadsheet formula has not been formatted correctly, then it is possible that it could generate a parse error. This is often the case if the formula contains additional special characters or if the formula has been written incorrectly. Generally, any error in syntax with the formula will result in a parse error being generated.

In order to avoid the #ERROR! message, you’ll want to make sure that the formula is written correctly the first time. Ensure that you’ve checked the formula for any inaccuracies that may pop up and cause the formula to generate an error. The #ERROR! message is specifically unique to Google Sheets and what it means is that it cannot understand the formula that has been entered and therefore cannot execute the command to parse the data.

An example is if you manually type in a $ symbol when attempting to refer it as the dollar symbol, Google Sheets may alternatively think what you’re actually referring to is an absolute.

When wanting to show values using the currency symbols or as percentages, avoid typing them in manually as $ or %. Instead, what you’ll want to do is enter a plain number and then use the formatting options to change it to any particular style you need.

This is also the case if you’ve missed a “&” when stringing together text and numerical values.

What the formula should read as is: =“Total”&sum(A1:A6) which shows up as a Total21 (the numbers in A1-A6 added together).

Make sure that you’re using the correct join syntax in order to string together text and numerical values.

Additionally, it’s possible to receive a parse error when attempting to close out the brackets in a formula. One bracket too many or too few can cause complications during a data parsing.

Ensure that the correct amount of brackets are being used and that they’re also being placed correctly.

There are many different functions within Google Sheets that can generate a parse error:

  • If
  • Sum
  • Query
  • Sparkline
  • Count
  • ImportRange

Just to name a few. Avoid the complication and go over your formulas prior to parsing the data and correct any and all irregularities that you may find.

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