ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Excel Trick for Business Analysts: Text-to-Columns

Updated on January 5, 2014

Overview: Excel Tricks for Business Analysts

Excel is an important tool for business analysts. It's useful for compiling and analyzing data, presenting data, and even manipulating it. Rarely does a day go by that I do not use Excel (and I get a little depressed on those rare days).

Excel is our friend. However, like any great tool, it is robust and a bit of a labyrinth. You could spend your days as a business analyst using Excel like a Word doc, still using calculators to compute things and basically only scratching the surface of what Excel can do. Or, you can learn to work your way through the maze of functions and formulas and truly excel in your career by mastering Excel.

We won't master Excel here. But we will go a little deeper and have fun while doing it!

This hub specifically covers text-to-columns. Each of the 5 tricks is covered in a different hubpage.

5 Fun Excel Tricks of the Trade for Business Analysts

What It's For
Examples of Usage
Splitting text into two columns.
Separating names that are currently in last name, first name format. Separating address, city, state, zip into four distinct columns for sorting.
Combining text or numbers into a single column
Creating a single Address 1 line, creating a single Name field from two separate fields, etc.
Remove time from Date/Time fields
Removing the time from a field that currently contains both date and time
Changing Jan 4, 2014 4:45 PM to simply Jan 4, 2014
Weighted Average
Calculating the weighted, rather than simple average to give a more accurate average over time
Calculating average volume over 52 weeks, where some weeks had spikes and others had low volume
Convert number stored as text to a number field
Exactly what it sounds like
This trick is so simple that you probably missed it. And most people do it the long, hard way incorrectly.

Easy Trick for Text-to-Columns

So, text-to-columns is so easy that it should go without saying, but it doesn't. I had been using Excel for YEARS before I started taking advance of this little sucker. And don't fool yourself into thinking you won't use this. What will happen after you learn it is that you will find yourself finding ways to work it into what you do.

How to Use Excel 2010 Text-to-Columns feature

  1. Select the cells containing text you would like to split. Ideally you should select all of the cells you want to split, otherwise, you will need to repeat this over and over.
  2. Click the Data tab and then click the Text-to-Columns menu item.
  3. Depending on how your data is structured, select either Delimited or Fixed Width. Delimited means that the two (or more) pieces of data are separated by a delimiter such as a comma or space. Select Fixed Width if, instead of separating the data at a delimiter, the data is separated by a space and the space appears in a specific place (such as at the 5th character). Click Next.
  4. If you chose Delimited, select the Delimiter(s). If you chose Fixed Width, specify where the data should be split. Click Next.
  5. On this next screen, you can give Excel more direction as to the type of data in the fields (General, Text, etc.) as well as where to put the new split text (a NEW feature in 2010). Click Finish.
  6. Voila!

Text-to-Columns Step-by-Step

Text-to-columns delimited vs fixed width. Do you know which one to use?
Text-to-columns delimited vs fixed width. Do you know which one to use?

Other Examples of Using Text-to-Columns

There are many times when splitting text is necessary. It goes beyond names and addresses to numbers of all types. Here is another example of when and how to use text-to-columns.

Separating generated, uniform numbers from a single text field into multiple columns

When copying/pasting a plain text list of numbers that spans multiple rows and columns into Excel, depending on how the list is pasted, you could end up with multiple columns of numbers in a single field (as in the image below).

You may wish to separate these into multiple fields. Below are the steps with images to go along with them.

  1. Select the text you want to separate, as described above in the general how-to.
  2. Click Data>Text-to-Columns
  3. Select Fixed Width. Click Next.
  4. Follow the instructions to separate the columns uniformly, by adding or dragging lines to create column breaks (see images below). Click Next.
  5. Select any additional options and preview the result.
  6. Click Finish.
  7. Voila!

Separating Uniform Numbers into Multiple Columns

Use text-to-columns to separate complete addresses into fields

This trick is very useful for preparing data to import into a database. When complete (full) addresses are in a single field in Excel, you won't be able to load them into a database that contains separate fields for address, city, state, zip, etc. unless the data is separated beforehand.

See images below for a step by step on how to separate address data in fields for uploading into a database.

Separating complete addresses into fields for importing to a database

Rate This Hub!

Cast your vote for Text-to-Columns Excel Feature


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)