Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Text to Columns

Today’s topic concerns a tool that is very basic to use, but one which a great many of Excel users never use.  From several conversations I have had with other Excel people over the years, it appears that few are aware of the Text to Columns feature in our favorite program.

As we well know, data isn’t always presented in the most ideal formats.  There are frequently times when it comes from a variety of sources outside of Excel; Sometimes even from Word documents, Gasp!  So how does the Text to Columns tool work?  Here is what you do:

For sake of illustration, let’s use the following string of numbers (remember, this is intentionally rudimentary…) that you may find in a Word document or any other numerous sources:

14, 22, 36, 35, 64, 34, 28, 94
1.     Simply select the string, copy it, and paste it into a cell in Excel (in this example, A2 was used)
2.     Select the cell and click on the Text to Columns icon on the DATA ribbon
3.     The Convert Text to Columns Wizard will appear giving you the following two major options:
a.     Delimited – Characters such as commas separate each field
b.     Fixed width – Fields are aligned in columns with spaces between each field
4.     In our example, we choose Delimited since our numbers are separated by commas
5.     Following the next steps in the Wizard gives you the choice to pick your desired format:
a.     General
b.     Text
c.      Date

Badda-bing!  It really is that simple to get your data into Excel in proper alignment and format.  The Text to Columns tool may be just the ticket for that task just around the corner!

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