How to Separate Data in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Separating data in Excel can be a breeze if you know the right steps. Whether you’re dealing with a list of names and addresses or a set of numbers, Excel has built-in tools to help you categorize and manage your information efficiently. Let’s dive into how to get your data organized and separated in just a few clicks.

Step by Step Tutorial: Separating Data in Excel

Before we begin, it’s important to understand that separating data in Excel can mean several things. It could involve sorting data, splitting text into different columns, or filtering data to show only what you need. The following steps will guide you through the process of splitting text into different columns using the Text to Columns feature.

Step 1: Select the Data

Select the cell or column that contains the data you want to separate.

Selecting the correct data is crucial because Excel will only separate the data that is highlighted. If you have a long list, you can click the column letter at the top to select the entire column.

Step 2: Go to the ‘Data’ Tab

Click on the ‘Data’ tab in the Excel ribbon.

The ‘Data’ tab is where you’ll find most of the tools for managing data, including the Text to Columns feature.

Step 3: Click on ‘Text to Columns’

Find and click on the ‘Text to Columns’ button in the ‘Data’ tab.

This will open the Convert Text to Columns Wizard, which will guide you through the process of separating your data.

Step 4: Choose the File Type

Choose the file type that best describes your data, either ‘Delimited’ or ‘Fixed Width’.

‘Delimited’ means your data is separated by a specific character, like a comma or a tab. ‘Fixed Width’ means the data is aligned in columns with spaces.

Step 5: Set Your Delimiters

If you chose ‘Delimited’, select the delimiter that separates your data and click ‘Next’.

Common delimiters include commas, tabs, spaces, or semicolons. Make sure to check the correct box that matches your data format.

Step 6: Format and Finish

Choose the data format for your separated data and click ‘Finish’.

You can decide whether the new columns should be formatted as text, date, or general. Once you click ‘Finish’, Excel will separate the data into new columns based on your selections.

After completing the action, you’ll see your data neatly organized into individual columns. This makes it easier to sort, filter, and analyze your information.

Tips for Separating Data in Excel

  • Review your data before separating to ensure you select the right delimiter.
  • Use the ‘Preview’ pane in the Text to Columns Wizard to see how your data will look after separation.
  • Remember to back up your data before making any significant changes.
  • Explore the ‘Data’ tab to find other useful tools like Remove Duplicates or Data Validation.
  • Practice using the Text to Columns feature with different types of data to become more comfortable with it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I separate data based on multiple delimiters?

Yes, Excel allows you to select multiple delimiters in the Text to Columns Wizard.

What if my data doesn’t have a consistent delimiter?

You might want to use the ‘Fixed Width’ option or manually adjust the column breaks in the wizard.

Will separating data affect my original data?

Your original data will be replaced with the separated columns unless you copy and paste your data to a new location first.

Can I separate data into rows instead of columns?

Excel’s Text to Columns feature only separates data into columns. To separate into rows, you would need to use a combination of functions or VBA code.

Is it possible to reverse the Text to Columns action?

You can use the ‘Undo’ feature (Ctrl + Z) immediately after performing the action. However, if you have made changes after that, you will need to manually combine the data again.


  1. Select the data
  2. Go to the ‘Data’ tab
  3. Click on ‘Text to Columns’
  4. Choose the file type
  5. Set your delimiters
  6. Format and finish


Learning how to separate data in Excel is a valuable skill that can save you time and frustration when dealing with large amounts of information. The Text to Columns feature is just one of the many tools Excel offers to help you clean and organize your data efficiently. Remember to back up your data and practice with different types of information to master this feature. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to tackle any data separation task with confidence. And who knows, maybe you’ll even become the go-to Excel expert in your office or among your friends! Keep exploring, keep learning, and keep separating that data like a pro.

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