Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Faster Text File Conversions.

Faster Text File Conversions

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 28, 2019)

Pat wondered how to change the default column data type from "general" to "text" for all columns of a comma-delimited text file. Changing the format of each column, especially when there are many of them, can be tedious at best.

Unfortunately, there is no way to change the default. However, the changing of the column data types can be done much more easily by applying a little of the "pick and choose" features available in most Windows programs. Follow these steps:

  1. Start to import your comma-delimited text file as you normally would.
  2. When the dialog box is displayed that allows you to change column data types, select the first column in the table.
  3. Scroll to the right in the dialog box so the last column in the table is visible.
  4. Hold down the Shift key as you click on the last column. Now all the columns should be selected.
  5. Change the data type to Text.
  6. Continue with the import, as usual.

If you prefer an even faster way of inputting the information from the comma-delimited text file, you can do so using a macro, thereby skipping the Excel import filters entirely. The following macro, entitled (appropriately enough) Import, will do the trick:

Sub Import()
    Open "d:\data.txt" For Input As #1
    R = 1
    While Not EOF(1) 'Scan file line by line
        C = 1
        Entry = ""
        Line Input #1, Buffer
        Length = Len(Buffer)
        i = 1
        While i <= Length 'split string into cells
            If (Mid(Buffer, i, 1)) = "," Then
                With Application.Cells(R, C)
                    .NumberFormat = "@" 'Text formatting
                    .Value = Entry
                End With
                C = C + 1
                Entry = ""
            Else
                Entry = Entry + Mid(Buffer, i, 1)
            End If
            i = i + 1
        Wend
        If Len(Entry) > 0 Then
            With Application.Cells(R, C)
                .NumberFormat = "@" 'Text formatting
                .Value = Entry
            End With
        End If
        R = R + 1
    Wend
    Close #1
End Sub

You should note that you can change the first line of the macro to represent the name of the file you are importing. You should also understand that this macro works on the simplest of comma-delimited text files. If the file was created with quote marks around each field (as is sometimes the case), then the macro will not give the desired results and would need to be changed to compensate for the quote marks. Or, as an alternative, you could simply use search for and remove the quotes after the macro is through importing the information.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2235) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Faster Text File Conversions.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Setting a Default Table Border Width

When you insert a table into your document, it uses a standard-weight line around each cell in the table. If you want to ...

Discover More

Creating an Index Entry for a Range of Pages

Putting together an index for your documents can be challenging, but Word provides some great tools to make the task ...

Discover More

Adjusting a Range's Starting Point

Select a range of cells, and one of those cells will always be the starting point for the range. This tip explains how to ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Determining If a File Exists

Before you have your macro open and read a file from disk, you'll want to check to make sure it is really there. Here's ...

Discover More

Extracting File Names from a Path

If you have a full path designation for the location of a file on your hard drive, you may want a way for Excel to pull ...

Discover More

Setting the AutoRecover Directory

Excel, by default, periodically writes information to AutoRecover files that can help protect your data in case Excel is ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is one more than 1?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.