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: Pulling Apart Characters in a Long String.

Pulling Apart Characters in a Long String

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 4, 2017)

John has a worksheet that, in column A, has a large number of very long text strings. He needs to individually pull the first 249 characters from each string, placing a single character in each cell to the right of the string.

There are a couple of ways that you can accomplish this task. It is quite easy to do through the use of a simple formula. For instance, if your first text string is in cell A1, put the following formula to its right, in cell B1:

=MID($A1,COLUMN()-1,1)

This formula uses Excel worksheet functions to pull apart the text string. The COLUMN function, in this case, returns the value 2 since the formula is in column B and that is the second column in the worksheet. This value is decremented by 1, and then used as a pointer into the string in cell A1, marking where the extracted character should come from. When you copy this formula right, for however many cells desired, you end up with individual characters from the string, in consecutive order.

Of course, if you have quite a few strings in the worksheet (as John does), then copying this formula over 249 columns and down, say, several hundred rows can make for a very sluggish worksheet. In such situations it may be desirable to use a macro to split apart the strings instead of a formula. The following macro, SplitUp, is one approach to doing the actual tearing apart.

Sub SplitUp()
    Dim c As Range
    Dim r As Range
    Dim sTemp As String
    Dim z As Integer

    Set r = Range("A1", Range("A65536").End(xlUp))
    For Each c In r
        sTemp = Left(c, 249)
        For z = 1 To Len(sTemp)
            c.Offset(0, z) = Mid(sTemp, z, 1)
        Next z
    Next
End Sub

The macro starts by defining a range (r) that consists of all the cells in column A that contain values. The c variable is then used to represent each cell in the range, and the first 249 characters pulled from each cell. A For ... Next loop is then used to pull each character from the string and stuff it into a cell to the right of the string.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2790) 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: Pulling Apart Characters in a Long String.

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

Opening Multiple Documents at Once

Word's Open dialog box provides many of the same file management functions as Windows Explorer does. One of the functions is ...

Discover More

Centering Across Columns

Have a heading you need centered across a few columns? It's easy to do using the tool described in this tip.

Discover More

Develop Macros in Their Own Workbook

If you develop macros and edit them quite a bit, you may be running the risk of causing problems with the macros or with your ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Converting PDF to Excel

Reports and other formal documents are often distributed in PDF format so that they can be read and printed on a variety of ...

Discover More

Converting UNIX Date/Time Stamps

If you import information generated on a UNIX system, you may need to figure out how to change the date/time stamps to ...

Discover More

Shortening ZIP Codes

US ZIP Codes can be of two varieties: five-digits or nine-digits. Here's how to convert longer ZIP Codes to the shorter ...

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}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. 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 seven minus 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.