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

Splitting data in Excel is a straightforward task that can be accomplished in a few simple steps. Whether you’re organizing a large dataset or preparing data for analysis, knowing how to split data can save you time and make your work more efficient. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process step by step.

Step by Step Tutorial: Splitting Data in Excel

Before we dive into the steps, let’s clarify what we mean by splitting data. When you split data in Excel, you’re dividing the contents of one cell into multiple cells, usually based on a specific delimiter such as a comma, space, or other character. This can be particularly useful when dealing with data that’s been imported from another source and isn’t formatted the way you need it to be.

Step 1: Select the cells you want to split

First, you need to select the cells that contain the data you want to split. Click on the cell or use your mouse to drag and select multiple cells.

Selecting the right cells is crucial because Excel will only split the data in the cells you’ve highlighted. Make sure you’ve selected every cell that contains the data you want to split before moving on to the next step.

Step 2: Go to the Data tab and click on ‘Text to Columns’

Once you’ve selected your cells, navigate to the Data tab on the Excel ribbon. Look for the ‘Text to Columns’ option and click on it.

The ‘Text to Columns’ feature is the tool you’ll use to split your data. It’s designed to convert a single column of text into multiple columns based on the criteria you specify.

Step 3: Choose ‘Delimited’ or ‘Fixed width’

In the ‘Convert Text to Columns Wizard,’ you’ll be prompted to choose between ‘Delimited’ and ‘Fixed width.’ Choose the one that applies to your data.

If your data is separated by characters like commas or tabs, ‘Delimited’ is the right choice. If the data is aligned in columns with spaces, ‘Fixed width’ will work better for you.

Step 4: Set your delimiters or column breaks

For delimited data, check the boxes for the delimiters your data uses. For fixed width, click on the data preview to set the column breaks.

Setting the correct delimiters is key. If you choose the wrong delimiter, your data won’t split the way you want it to. Pay close attention to the data preview at the bottom of the dialog box to ensure you’re getting the results you expect.

Step 5: Finish and review your split data

Click on ‘Finish’ to split your data. Excel will then divide the selected cells into multiple columns.

After clicking ‘Finish,’ you should see your data neatly split into separate columns. Take a moment to review the split data to make sure everything looks correct.

After completing these steps, your data will be split into the columns you specified, making it easier to work with and analyze. This can be particularly useful if you’re dealing with large datasets or preparing data for a report.

Tips for Splitting Data in Excel

  • Always back up your original data before splitting it, in case you need to revert to the original format.
  • Use the ‘Undo’ function (Ctrl + Z) if you make a mistake or aren’t happy with the result.
  • Consider using ‘Text to Columns’ for data cleaning tasks like removing extra spaces or converting text to numbers.
  • Familiarize yourself with different delimiters and when to use them for various data types.
  • Practice splitting data with sample datasets to gain confidence before working on crucial data.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a delimiter?

A delimiter is a character that separates pieces of data within a cell. Common delimiters include commas, semicolons, tabs, and spaces.

Delimiters act as markers that tell Excel where to split the data. Choosing the correct delimiter is essential for accurate data splitting.

Can I split data into more than two columns?

Yes, you can split data into as many columns as you need, depending on the number of delimiters present in your data.

The ‘Text to Columns’ feature can handle multiple delimiters and will split your data accordingly into the appropriate number of columns.

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

If your data doesn’t have a clear delimiter, you may need to use the ‘Fixed width’ option, which allows you to manually set column breaks based on the data’s alignment.

Using ‘Fixed width’ requires you to visually inspect where the data should be split and place the column breaks accordingly.

Can I undo the split if I make a mistake?

Yes, you can use the ‘Undo’ function (Ctrl + Z) to revert the changes if you make a mistake or aren’t satisfied with how the data was split.

It’s important to review the split data immediately after finishing so you can quickly undo the action if needed.

Is there a way to automate data splitting for future use?

If you regularly split data in the same format, you can record a macro while performing the split. This macro can then be used to automate the process in the future.

Recording a macro involves performing the actions once while Excel records them. You can then assign the macro to a button or shortcut for easy access.


  1. Select the cells containing the data to split.
  2. Navigate to the Data tab and click on ‘Text to Columns.’
  3. Choose ‘Delimited’ or ‘Fixed width’ based on your data.
  4. Set your delimiters or column breaks.
  5. Click ‘Finish’ and review your split data.


Splitting data in Excel is a common task that can greatly enhance your productivity and data analysis abilities. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can quickly and efficiently divide your data into manageable columns. Remember to choose the correct delimiters, review your data after splitting, and practice with sample data to become more proficient. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced Excel user, mastering the art of splitting data is an essential skill that will serve you well in various data-related tasks. So go ahead, give it a try and watch your data transform before your eyes!

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