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 Cells.

Pulling Apart Cells

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 22, 2015)

1

It's probably happened to you before: you get data for your worksheet, and one of the columns includes names. The only problem is, the names are all bunched together. For instance, the cell contains "Allen Wyatt," but you would rather have the first name in one column, and the last name in the neighboring column to the right. How do you pull the names apart?

You can easily use the Text to Columns feature in Excel to pull your data apart. Just follow these steps:

  1. Select the range of cells you want to split.
  2. Choose Text to Columns from the Data menu. Excel starts the Convert Text to Columns Wizard. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The beginning of the Convert Text to Columns Wizard.

  4. Choose whether the text you have selected is fixed width or delimited. (In the case of a space between first and last name, the text would be delimited.)
  5. Click on Next.
  6. Specify the delimiters you want Excel to recognize. In the case of pulling apart names, you should make sure that you use spaces as delimiters.
  7. Click on Finish.

Excel pulls apart the cells in your selected range, separating all the text at the delimiter you specified. Excel uses however many columns are necessary to hold the data.

If you don't want to spread your data completely across the columns, then you will need to use a macro. For instance, if a cell contains "John Davis, Esq.", then using the Text to Columns feature will result in the data being spread into three columns: the first containing "John", the second containing "Davis," (with the comma), and the third containing "Esq." If you would rather have the data split into two columns ("John" in one and "Davis, Esq." in the other, then the following macro will be helpful:

Sub PullApart()
    Dim FirstCol As Integer, FirstRow As Integer
    Dim RowCount As Integer
    Dim ThisRow As Integer
    Dim j As Integer, k As Integer
    Dim MyText As String

    FirstCol = ActiveWindow.RangeSelection.Column
    FirstRow = ActiveWindow.RangeSelection.Row
    RowCount = ActiveWindow.Selection.Rows.Count

    For j = 1 To RowCount
        ThisRow = FirstRow + j - 1
        MyText = Cells(ThisRow, FirstCol).Text
        k = InStr(MyText, " ")
        If k > 0 Then
            Cells(ThisRow, FirstCol + 1).Value = Mid(MyText, k + 1)
            Cells(ThisRow, FirstCol).Value = Left(MyText, k - 1)
        End If
    Next j
End Sub

This macro examines each cell and leaves everything up to the first space in the selected cell, and moves everything after the space into the column to the right. The only "gottcha" with this macro is to make sure you have nothing in the column to the right of whatever cells you select when you run it.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2967) 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 Cells.

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

Extracting Proper Words

If you've got a list of potential words, and you want to know which of those potential words are real, you'll appreciate the ...

Discover More

Removing Automatic Lines

Type a few dashes, underscores, or equal signs, and you could end up with a full-width line in your document. This is normal ...

Discover More

Putting Something in Every Cell of a Table

Need to make sure that all the cells of a table have something in them? It's easy to do with a handy little macro.

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

MORE EXCELTIPS (MENU)

Generating Unique, Sequential Names

Do you need to create a number of words or phrases where you only alter a few letters in each one? If the alterations follow ...

Discover More

Creating a Plus/Minus Button

Want a quick way to convert positive values to negative and vice versa? You can create your own plus/minus button by using a ...

Discover More

Forcing a Macro to Run when a Worksheet is Recalculated

Normally a macro is only calculated when you specifically tell Excel to calculate it. Some macros need to be calculated ...

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 for this tip:

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 three minus 0?

2015-08-22 07:21:33

Ron Swenson

I've used cumbersome workarounds to separate names for the past 15 years. I didn't know that this tool existed. Thanks a lot.


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.

Links and Sharing
Share