Lead empty cell(s) ignored when copy/pasting


I recently switched over to LibreOffice after running into too many issues with OpenOffice… and it did solve all of those annoying problems! So I’m pretty happy about that :wink:

However, I am noticing one odd behavior.

When I copy-paste a row of data from a spreadsheet, if the first cells are empty, when I paste it into say a text editor, instead of using tabs for the empty cells it will just start with the first non-empty cell.

This is consistent no matter where I paste the data – text editor, browser, etc.

If I type a space into the first empty cell, then it gets copied fine (along with any other empty cells that may follow)… but so does the space, of course, so that’s not the ideal workaround.

This is a big issue for me as I regularly need to copy-paste data to and from spreadsheets, and I need those empty cells to be recognized and properly carried over as tabs.

So is there a way I can modify this behavior, via options perhaps? I’ve looked but couldn’t figure it out… and google hasn’t been much help either.

Some tech specs:


Fedora 23 with KDE 5.14

Linux kernel 4.3.3

Been racking my brains over this for weeks now, so I’d really appreciate any assistance you could provide. Thanks!

PS. BTW, this is definitely a LO-specific issue, as copy-pasting from Google Spreadsheets works as expected.

I ran into the same problem. Specifically, LibreOffice does not preserve blank rows/columns that are around the text, above, below, left or right. Enter some text in 4 cells in the middle of the screen. Copy the text and several rows and columns around the text. When pasting as rich text, the blank rows/columns are preserved if the destination application supports rich text: Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel, LibreOffice Writer. When pasting as plain text, the blank rows/columns are stripped and only rows/columns that have text are pasted.

Why do you need to preserve blank rows or columns? To keep the tabs as placeholders. As explained above, if you are working with text, deleting the tabs (i.e. blank rows/columns) changes the meaning. For example, let’s say you are entering data for each day of the week. The first day, Sunday, and last day, Saturday, doesn’t have any data. If you copy the header, Saturday and Sunday will have tabs indicating no data. If you don’t copy the headers and only copy the data, Saturday and Sunday will be lost. I.e. the tab placeholders will be stripped.

Is this the way it’s supposed to work?


  1. Google Sheets as of 2018-02-05: Preserves blank rows and columns.
  2. Microsoft Excel: Preserves blank rows above and blank columns to the left. Blank columns to the right and blank rows below the text are stripped.
    • Version 16.9 (180116) on Mac High Sierra
    • Version 1801, build 9001.2138 on Windows 10
  3. LibreOffice Calc on Mac: Blank rows and columns are stripped.
    • Version, build ID 64a0f66915f38c6217de274f0aa8e15618924765, 64-bit on Mac High Sierra (10.13.3)
    • Version, build ID 64a0f66915f38c6217de274f0aa8e15618924765, 64-bit on Windows 10
    • Version:, Build ID: 30m0(Build:2) 64-bit on openSUSE (using the LibreOffice repos)

With Version 64-bit for Windows 10.

This problem ONLY EXISTS when using Paste Special - UnformattedText

A User might wish to paste data into a destination spreadsheet with pre-formatted cells and wants to keep the destination formats, so might want to use “Paste Special - Unformatted Text” to achieve this.

Paste Special - Unformatted text will ignore the leading blank cells in the row or column and will paste the first cell with non blank data into the top or left cell, and then fill cells in sequence.

Using weekly data example: Copy Sunday to Saturday data from Sheet A. If Sheet A Sunday is blank, then when paste Special - Unformatted Text into Sheet B on Sunday, then Mondays data is entered in Sunday cell, Tuesday into Monday cell, etc

image description

All other forms of Copy/paste will account for the initial blank cells and will keep the data in its proper place in the sheet.
To keep existing pre-formats, use Paste Special - Text (or Number, or Date), or Use Paste Special - Paste Special with appropriate format selected-

Version Build ID: 3d775be2011f3886db32dfd395a6a6d1ca2630ff 64-bit on Windows 10

The question says that the problem occurs when pasting into a text editor, no into a spreadsheet.

Your answer is addressing a different question.

The OP does mention spreadsheets

This is a big issue for me as I regularly need to copy-paste data **to and from spreadsheets**,(*my emphasis)* and I need those empty cells to be recognized and properly carried over as tabs.
The OP may have to import the CSV into a calc sheet first, and set the formatting properly before outputting to writer