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)


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. ...


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What is 5 + 9?

2017-09-24 00:55:36

J Bingham

PullApart is a nice macro and is almost exactly what I wanted. My data consists of a list of names which first name or initial, optionally a middle name or initial and last name, but never a comma followed by Esq. What I wanted was a macro to leave the first an middle name/initial in the original cell and move the last name to the cell to the right. I made one minor change to the macro and it worked like a champ. Here is the change that I made:
k = InStrRev(MyText, " ")
Thank you for your help in solving my problem.

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.

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