# How to Combine Two Columns in Excel with a Dash: A Simple Guide

Combining two columns in Excel with a dash is simpler than you think. To do this, you will use a formula that merges content from two separate columns into a new column, placing a dash between the values from each column. Here’s how you can achieve this in just a few easy steps.

## How to Combine Two Columns in Excel with a Dash

This tutorial will show you how to combine the data from two different columns into a single column with a dash separating the values. By the end of these steps, you’ll have a new column with the merged data.

### Step 1: Open Your Excel File

Open your Excel file where you want to combine columns. Make sure both columns you want to merge are visible.

Your first step is to fire up your Excel file. You can do this by double-clicking on it from its saved location. Ensure the columns you want to merge are clearly marked and accessible.

### Step 2: Select an Empty Column

Select an empty column where the combined data will be displayed.

Choose a column that’s currently not in use. This column will be where you’ll place the merged data, so make sure it’s adjacent or easily referable to the columns you’re merging.

### Step 3: Enter the Formula

Click into the first cell of the empty column and enter the formula: =A1 & "-" & B1 (replace A1 and B1 with the specific cells you’re combining).

Go to the first cell of the column you selected for the merged data. Type in the formula, adjusting the cell references to match the ones in your document. This formula tells Excel to take the value from the first cell of column A, add a dash, and then add the value from the first cell of column B.

### Step 4: Press Enter

Press the Enter key on your keyboard to apply the formula.

Once you’ve typed in the formula, hit Enter. Excel will immediately show the combined data from the two columns with a dash in between.

### Step 5: Fill Down the Column

Use the fill handle to drag the formula down the column to apply it to other rows.

Click on the small square at the bottom-right corner of the cell where you entered the formula. Drag it down to fill the formula into the other cells in the column. This action will copy the formula, adjusting it to combine the corresponding rows in the two columns.

After following these steps, you will have successfully combined the data from two columns into a new column with a dash separating the values. This new column will display the merged content for each row.

## Tips for Combining Two Columns in Excel with a Dash

• Use Absolute References: If your data isn’t in the first row, you can use absolute cell references (like \$A\$2) to keep your formula accurate.
• Check for Blank Cells: If either of the original columns has blank cells, you might end up with extra dashes. Handle blanks appropriately.
• Concatenate Function: For more complex combinations, consider using the CONCATENATE function instead of the ampersand (&) symbol.
• Trim Spaces: Use the TRIM function if your data has extra spaces that you want to remove.
• Data Validation: Always check your combined data for errors to ensure data accuracy.

### Can I combine more than two columns with a dash?

Yes, you can adjust the formula to include more columns by adding additional ampersands and dashes (e.g., =A1 & "-" & B1 & "-" & C1).

### What if my columns contain numbers?

The formula works the same way regardless if the columns contain numbers or text. Excel treats them as text for combining purposes.

### How do I handle special characters in my data?

Special characters are included as-is. If you need to add special formatting, you may need to use additional functions or formatting tools.

### Can I use this method in Google Sheets?

Absolutely! The formula works similarly in Google Sheets, with minor differences in how you might apply it.

### What happens if I delete one of the original columns?

Deleting one of the original columns will break the formula, leading to errors in your combined column. Always ensure your source data stays intact.

## Summary

2. Select an Empty Column
3. Enter the Formula
4. Press Enter
5. Fill Down the Column

## Conclusion

Combining two columns in Excel with a dash is a quick and handy trick that can save you a lot of time, especially when dealing with large datasets. By using a simple formula, you can merge your data in just a few steps. This method is not just limited to Excel but can also be applied in similar software like Google Sheets.

If you found this guide helpful, why not take your Excel skills to the next level? Dive into learning more about Excel functions like CONCATENATE, VLOOKUP, or even pivot tables. The more you know, the more efficient you’ll become in handling data. Happy Excel-ing!