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How to Use Text to Columns in Excel

In this article, you will learn how to use the Text to Columns feature in Excel.

Text to Columns allows you to take a set of data that is bunched together and transform it so that each piece of data is placed in a separate cell.

How Text to Columns Works

A visual example is the best way to see how this all works.

Let’s say you have the following data.

This data is really hard to read because the information in each row is separated by semicolons.

If you use the Text to Columns feature in Excel, you can transform this data so that the semicolon-separated data is placed into separate columns.

As you can see, this structure is much easier to read and work with.

How to Use Text to Columns

To use Text to Columns, start by selecting the column containing the data.

Then, in the Excel Ribbon, go to Data Text to Columns.

You will see a dialog box that looks something like this.

If your data is separated by a delimiter (a specific character such as a semicolon, comma, or space), select the Delimited option.

If you want to separate your data by a certain width – for instance, every six characters – you would select the Fixed Width option.

In this case, the data is separated by a semicolon, so you select the Delimited option and click Next.

At this point, you select which character is acting as the delimiter for your data. In this case, it is a semicolon, so you check the box next to Semicolon and then click Next.

Side Note
If you want to consider several characters as delimiters, you can always check multiple boxes.

In the next step, you can format the data in each column. This is a very helpful tool when working with dates or times.

In this example, no specific formatting is needed, so you can go ahead and click Finish.

The Text to Columns tool goes into action and transforms the data appropriately. You may have to adjust the column widths to display all the data clearly.

And that is how you can use the Text to Columns tool in Microsoft Excel.

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