How to replace new line (‘\n’) in a Power Automate expression
Posted On April 11, 2021
“I can’t figure out how to replace a new line (‘\n’) or any other non-printable character in Power Automate expression.”
The Power Automate expression replace(…) doesn’t work as you might expect for some non-printable characters, e.g. new line. The first thing you’d probably try is to replace ‘\n’. But Power Automate won’t process it as a new line, it’ll process it as it is: \n string. Replace(‘string’, ‘\n’, ”) will replace only the substring \n in the whole string. If the substring is not found, it’ll not replace anything and the flow will continue. To replace a new line you must use the right ‘new line’ character in your flow.
Store ‘new line’ in a variable
One of the solutions is to store the ‘new line’ into a variable and then use that variable in the replace(…) expression. Initialize a String variable, and in the ‘Value’ just press Enter. That’ll create a variable with a character representing a ‘new line’.
You can then use this variable in the replace(…) expression to replace new lines, e.g. with a semicolon.
Another approach, if you don’t want to create an extra variable in your flow, is to get the ‘new line’ from an expression. You can get the ‘new line’ character by a conversion from its percent-encoded (Uri) value ‘%0A’ via decodeUriComponent(‘Uri value’) expression.
Instead of initializing a variable, you use decodeUriComponent(…) directly in the replace(…) expression. The example below will replace new lines with a semicolon.
Note: some files created in Windows use \r\n instead of just \n as the ‘new line’ value. If you end up with \r in your string in place of the new lines, try to replace the whole \r\n substring: decodeUriComponent(‘%0D%0A’).
Since this blog’s motto is “From no-code to low-code”, my preference is the expression. It’s not only reducing number of variables, but I’d consider it even safer to manage (“Why has the variable no value? I think I’ll delete it…”).
Also, the expression is not limited only to the ‘new line’ character. You can use the decodeUriComponent(…) for any problematic character, e.g. apostrophe. Instead of many apostrophes (as used e.g. in the Filter Query with apostrophes), you can decode the ‘%27’ value anywhere in your flow. You just need to find the percent-encoded value to replace.