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: Delimited Text-to-Columns in a Macro.

Delimited Text-to-Columns in a Macro

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 3, 2014)

One of the handiest features in Excel is the Text to Columns feature, which allows you to easily split cell contents into individual cells according to any criteria you specify. One method of using the feature is to allow it to recognize characters within the cells and use those characters to trigger where the split should take place. This type of splitting is referred to as a delimited split.

You may be wondering how you can perform a delimited text-to-columns operation in a macro you may be writing. This is easy enough to do by using the TextToColumns method on a selection you set up. Consider the following very simple macro:

Sub ExampleSplit1()
    Selection.TextToColumns _
      Destination:=Range("A2"), _
      DataType:=xlDelimited, _
      TextQualifier:=xlDoubleQuote, _
      ConsecutiveDelimiter:=False, _
      Tab:=True, _
      Semicolon:=False, _
      Comma:=False, _
      Space:=False, _
      Other:=True, _
      OtherChar:="-"
End Sub

Notice all the variables that you can set for the TextToColumns method. Most of these variables are only necessary because this is a delimited split; the variables set what is used as a delimiter by the method. Beginning with the Tab line, the variables correspond directly to the settings you would make in Step 2 of the Convert Text to Columns Wizard, if you were manually using the feature. You can set Tab, Semicolon, Comma, and Space to either True or False, depending on whether you want that character used as a delimiter.

You can also set the Other variable to True or False, depending on whether you want to have a "user defined" delimiter. If you set it to True, then you should set the OtherChar variable equal to the character you want used as a delimiter.

If you use the TextToColumns method multiple times in the same macro, the only thing you need to do on invocations subsequent to the first is to change variables that differ from the previous invocation. For instance, let's say that you are calling the method twice in the same macro, and the first time you want the split to be on an instance of the dash character, but the second you want it to be on any instance of a lowercase x. You can put the macro together like this:

Sub ExampleSplit2()
    Dim objRange1 As Range
    Dim objRange2 As Range

    'Set up the ranges
    Set objRange1 = Range("A2:A20")
    Set objRange2 = Range("A21:A35")

    'Do the first parse
    objRange1.TextToColumns _
      Destination:=Range("A2"), _
      DataType:=xlDelimited, _
      Tab:=False, _
      Semicolon:=False, _
      Comma:=False, _
      Space:=False, _
      Other:=True, _
      OtherChar:="-"

    'Do the second parse
    objRange2.TextToColumns _
      Destination:=Range("A21"), _
      DataType:=xlDelimited, _
      OtherChar:="x"
End Sub

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2929) 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: Delimited Text-to-Columns in a Macro.

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. ...

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