How to Create Pipe Delimited Files in Excel 2010: A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating pipe delimited files in Excel 2010 is a handy skill to have, especially if you’re looking to organize your data efficiently. In a nutshell, you’ll be converting your Excel spreadsheet into a text file where each cell value is separated by a pipe character (|). This creates a clear and structured data set that can be easily imported into other software or databases.

After you’ve converted your Excel file to a pipe delimited format, you’ll have a text file that is more compatible with various systems. You can use it to transfer data between different applications or to process large datasets in a more manageable way.

Step by Step Tutorial: Creating Pipe Delimited Files in Excel 2010

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let me tell you what we’re aiming for here. By following these steps, you’ll transform your Excel data into a pipe delimited text file. This means that where you once had rows and columns, you’ll now have lines of text with each value separated by a “|”. Let’s get started.

Step 1: Open Your Excel Workbook

Open the workbook you want to convert to a pipe delimited file.

Opening your workbook is the first step because you need to access the data you’ll be converting. Make sure you’ve saved any changes to your Excel file before you start the conversion process.

Step 2: Save As

Click on ‘File’, then ‘Save As’, and choose the location where you want to save your new file.

This step is crucial because it’s where you’ll initiate the conversion process. Be sure to choose a location that’s easy for you to find later.

Step 3: Change File Type

In the ‘Save As’ dialog box, choose ‘Text (Tab delimited) (*.txt)’ from the ‘Save as type’ drop-down menu.

Even though we’re creating a pipe delimited file, Excel doesn’t have a direct option for this format. By saving as a tab-delimited text file, we can later replace the tabs with pipes.

Step 4: Open the Text File

Navigate to the location where you saved your text file and open it with Notepad or another text editor.

After saving your Excel file as a text file, you’ll need to open it in a text editor to make further changes.

Step 5: Replace Tabs with Pipes

Use the ‘Find and Replace’ feature to replace all tab characters with pipe characters.

In Notepad, you can access this feature by pressing Ctrl+H. Replace the tab character, which you can insert by pressing Tab in the ‘Find what’ field, with a pipe (|) in the ‘Replace with’ field.

Tips for Creating Pipe Delimited Files in Excel 2010

  • Always double-check your data before converting it to ensure all information is accurate and up-to-date.
  • Keep a backup of your original Excel file, just in case you need to revert to it after conversion.
  • If you’re dealing with a large dataset, be patient as the find and replace process might take some time.
  • Consider using a more advanced text editor like Notepad++ if you’re comfortable with it, as it may provide more robust features for handling large files.
  • After creating your pipe delimited file, open it in Excel to ensure the data has been formatted correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a pipe delimited file?

A pipe delimited file is a text file where each piece of data is separated by a pipe character (|), creating a clear structure for the data.

Why would I need to create a pipe delimited file in Excel?

Creating a pipe delimited file allows you to easily transfer data between different applications or databases.

Can I save an Excel file as a pipe delimited file directly?

No, Excel does not have an option to save files as pipe delimited directly, but you can save it as a text file and manually replace tabs with pipes.

What if my data contains pipe characters?

If your data already contains pipe characters, you’ll need to choose another unique character as a delimiter or remove/replace the existing pipes in your data before converting it.

Can I automate the process of creating a pipe delimited file?

With some knowledge of Excel macros or scripting, you can automate the process, but for occasional use, manual conversion using the steps provided is sufficient.


  1. Open your Excel workbook.
  2. Click ‘Save As’ and choose the save location.
  3. Select ‘Text (Tab delimited) (*.txt)’ as the file type.
  4. Open the text file in a text editor.
  5. Replace tabs with pipes using ‘Find and Replace’.


Mastering the art of creating pipe delimited files in Excel 2010 might feel like a minor technicality, but it’s one of those skills that can significantly streamline your workflow. Whether you’re collating data for a database, sharing information between different software, or simply organizing your data in a more structured format, knowing how to convert your spreadsheets into this universally accepted text file format is invaluable.

This article has walked you through the process step by step. Remember that the devil is in the details – ensure your data is clean and your backups are up to date. With a bit of practice, you’ll be converting files like a pro. And who knows, you might just become the go-to Excel wizard in your office. So go ahead, give it a try and watch your productivity pipe up!

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