How to Split Columns in Google Docs Spreadsheet: A Step-by-Step Guide

Splitting columns in a Google Docs spreadsheet is a straightforward process that can be accomplished in a few clicks. Knowing how to split data into multiple columns can help you organize and analyze information more effectively.

After you complete the action, your data will be divided into separate columns based on the delimiter you choose. This will make it easier to sort, filter, and visualize the data in your spreadsheet.


Google Docs spreadsheets, also known as Google Sheets, have become an essential tool for individuals and businesses alike. They offer a flexible platform for data entry, organization, and analysis, and are particularly powerful when it comes to handling large sets of data. But what happens when you have a column of data that you’d like to split into two or more columns? Maybe you’ve got a list of full names that you want to divide into first and last names, or perhaps you’ve imported data that’s all in one column, but you need it to be in multiple columns for better analysis.

Splitting columns can enhance readability, improve data entry accuracy, and make your data work for you. This guide is designed for people who are fairly new to Google Sheets or those who have basic knowledge but want to learn a new trick. So, let’s dive in and learn how to split up those columns!

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Split Columns in a Google Docs Spreadsheet

The following steps will guide you through the process of splitting columns in your Google Docs spreadsheet:

Step 1: Select the Data

Select the cells that contain the data you want to split.

Selecting the right data is crucial. Make sure to highlight all the cells in the column that you want to split. If you have headers, you can exclude them from your selection or include them if you want to split them as well.

Step 2: Data Menu

Go to the Data menu at the top of the screen.

The Data menu is where you’ll find most of the tools you need to manipulate your data. It’s a hub for sorting, filtering, and yes, splitting data.

Step 3: Split Text to Columns

Choose “Split text to columns” option from the dropdown menu.

By selecting this option, Google Sheets will automatically detect the delimiter in your selected data and suggest splitting the data based on it. This can be a space, comma, semicolon, or custom character.

Step 4: Choose Delimiter

Select the delimiter that your data is separated by, or choose ‘Custom’.

If Google Sheets doesn’t automatically detect the correct delimiter, or if you’d like to split the data in a different way, you can manually select the delimiter. If the delimiter isn’t listed, you can enter your own in the ‘Custom’ field.

Step 5: Check the Data

Review the data to ensure it has been split properly.

Sometimes data doesn’t split the way you expect it to. Always check to make sure everything has been divided correctly. If not, you can undo the action by pressing Ctrl+Z (or Cmd+Z on a Mac) and trying again with a different delimiter.


Organized DataOnce your columns are split, your spreadsheet will be much more organized. This makes it easier to sort and analyze your data.
Improved AccuracyWith data split into the appropriate columns, there are fewer chances for errors during data entry or analysis.
Time-SavingSplitting columns can save you a significant amount of time, especially if you’re dealing with large datasets.


Potential Data LossIf not done correctly, there’s a risk of losing data during the splitting process.
Limited DelimitersWhile Google Sheets offers several delimiter options, it may not cover every possible scenario.
Data Format IssuesAfter splitting, some data may not be in the correct format and could require further manipulation.

Additional Information

Splitting columns in a Google Docs spreadsheet is a nifty feature that can come in handy in numerous scenarios. Perhaps you’re working with imported data that’s not formatted correctly, or you’ve got a list of names or addresses that you’d like to separate for a mailing list. Whatever the case, being adept at this function can significantly streamline your data management process.

When you split text into columns, Google Sheets uses your chosen delimiter to identify where the split should occur. It’s important to choose the right delimiter to ensure your data is split accurately. Sometimes you might have to clean up your data before you can split it properly – this could mean replacing or removing certain characters so that your chosen delimiter can do its job. And remember, if you make a mistake, you can always undo it or try a different approach.

It’s also worth noting that split data might not always land perfectly into nice, neat columns. You might have to do a little tweaking afterward to ensure everything is as you want it. This could mean adjusting the width of your new columns, aligning text, or moving data around.


  1. Select the data you want to split.
  2. Go to the Data menu.
  3. Choose “Split text to columns.”
  4. Select the appropriate delimiter.
  5. Review the data to ensure proper splitting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I split data based on multiple delimiters?

Yes, you can, but you’ll need to split your data multiple times, each time using a different delimiter.

What if my data has no clear delimiter?

You might need to add a delimiter or manually separate the data before using the split text to columns feature.

Can I reverse the action after splitting columns?

Absolutely, just press Ctrl+Z (or Cmd+Z on a Mac) to undo the action.

Is it possible to split columns on the mobile version of Google Sheets?

Yes, the mobile version also supports the split text to columns feature, though the interface may differ slightly.

What happens to the original data after splitting?

The original column’s data will be replaced with the newly split columns. It’s a good idea to make a copy of the original data before splitting, just in case.


Knowing how to split columns in a Google Docs spreadsheet is a valuable skill that can save you time and frustration. Whether you’re a student, a business professional, or just someone who loves being organized, this feature is definitely something to add to your Google Sheets toolkit. With the step-by-step tutorial, pros and cons, and additional information provided, you’re well-equipped to start splitting those columns like a pro.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different delimiters and datasets. And if you ever get stuck, there’s a plethora of resources and communities online dedicated to Google Sheets users. Happy splitting!

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