How to Delimit in Excel: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering Data Separation

Learning to delimit in Excel can significantly boost your data handling skills. This task involves separating text in one column into multiple columns using a specific delimiter, like commas or spaces. It’s a handy trick for organizing messy data and making it more readable. By following a few simple steps, you can quickly transform your data for better analysis and presentation.

How to Delimit in Excel

Delimiting data in Excel is all about splitting text into separate columns based on a delimiter, which could be a comma, space, or any other character. Let’s jump into the step-by-step guide to help you master this technique.

Step 1: Select the Data

First, select the column containing the data you want to split.

To do this, click on the column header, for example, column A, to highlight the entire column.

Step 2: Open the Text to Columns Wizard

Next, go to the "Data" tab on the Excel ribbon and click on "Text to Columns."

This action will open the Text to Columns Wizard, which will guide you through the process.

Step 3: Choose Delimited Option

In the wizard, choose the "Delimited" option and click "Next."

The "Delimited" option allows you to split the text based on specific characters like commas, spaces, or tabs.

Step 4: Select Your Delimiter

Now, select the delimiter that matches your data. Common delimiters are commas, tabs, and spaces. Once selected, click "Next."

Check the boxes next to the delimiters that you want to use. You can even specify a custom delimiter if needed.

Step 5: Specify the Destination

Finally, choose where you want to place the split data and click "Finish."

You can choose to overwrite the original data or to place the split data in a new location within your worksheet.

After completing these steps, your data will be neatly split into separate columns based on the delimiter you chose.

Tips for Delimiting in Excel

  • Preview Your Data: The wizard provides a preview window; always check it to ensure your data will be split correctly.
  • Custom Delimiters: If your data uses a unique character for separation, you can specify it as a custom delimiter.
  • Backup Your Data: Before delimiting, make a copy of your original data to prevent any accidental data loss.
  • Use Formulas: For dynamic data splitting, consider using Excel functions like LEFT, RIGHT, and MID.
  • Text to Columns Shortcuts: Save time by using the keyboard shortcut Alt + A + E to open the Text to Columns Wizard quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my data has multiple delimiters?

You can select multiple delimiters in the wizard. Just check all the delimiters your data uses.

Can I revert the delimited data back to its original form?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a direct way to undo delimiting. This is why it’s crucial to back up your data first.

What if my data changes often?

Consider using formulas or Excel’s Flash Fill feature for dynamic data that changes frequently.

Can I delimit data using a specific word or phrase?

Yes, you can specify any character or string as a delimiter in the custom delimiter option.

What if the Text to Columns option is greyed out?

Make sure your worksheet is not protected and that you’re not in cell editing mode.


  1. Select the data.
  2. Open the Text to Columns Wizard.
  3. Choose the Delimited option.
  4. Select your delimiter.
  5. Specify the destination.


Mastering how to delimit in Excel is a valuable skill that can drastically improve how you handle and analyze data. While the steps are straightforward, the benefits are immense, especially when dealing with large datasets. By following this guide, you’ll be able to organize your data efficiently, saving time and minimizing errors. If you want to dive deeper, consider exploring more advanced Excel functions and features that complement delimiting, like PivotTables and data validation tools. Happy Excel-ing!

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