Separate text into columns in Excel: Microsoft Tips and Tricks

Separate Text into Multiple Columns with Excel 2013

When importing from other sources into Excel, the data may not separate automatically into workable columns. Don’t spend countless hours attempting to cut and paste this information to make it more usable—let Excel’s text-to-columns tool do the reformatting for you.

In the example below, notice the data are not segregated into multiple columns.

Notice: Each data point is held in one cell and separated by commas.

Excel uses delimiters to separate text from one another. Common delimiters include commas, spaces, dashes, and colons. In our example, commas separate the text. You can specify the delimiter and Excel will scan the data. Based on the delimiter you set, Excel will separate the text into separate columns.

text not seperated text to columns

  1. Select the cell(s) that hold the data
    1. In the example above, the data are only in column A, so select all cells of column A
  2. On the Data tab, select the Text to Columns feature
  3. Excel’s Text-to-Columns Wizard will appear and offer choices of data types:
    1. Delimited – The most common tool; Excel will allow you to set the desired delimiter in the next step
    2. Fixed width – Excel will convert the cell’s contents to columns based on a set number of text characters. This option is rarely used, but can work well for specific data sets like ZIP codes, which are always 5 digits
  4. After selecting the data type, click Next
  5. Choose your delimiter
    1. Excel will display several options and may have a delimiter type pre-selected; uncheck default(s) if necessary
    2. Choose the desired delimiter (in our example, select Comma)
  6. Select Finish

seperated text to columns
You should now see your data in separate columns.

Tip: If you have existing data in the columns to the right of the data you wish to separate, you will need to insert additional columns to provide space for the data to move into.

Creating a Table of Contents in Word 2013

Most of us have found a time when we needed to create a table of contents for a document we’re preparing. Unaware of the tools available in Microsoft Word, many of us have compiled a table of contents by hand—but there’s no reason to waste efforts any longer. Word makes this process simple for even large documents.

Open up a Word document to follow along in this tutorial.

On the Home tab, in the Styles group, notice styles labeled as Heading 1, Heading 2… there are several available. Using these styles will make Table of Contents a breeze. Select any text on your document that will be main topics in the Table of contents and select Heading 1 style. For any topics you want to designate as sub-topics, select Heading 2. After adding your Heading styles, you are ready to let Word do its work.

On the References tab, select Table of Contents, then choose Custom Table of Contents, and click OK.

Word Headings text to columns
The result:

Table of Contents text to columns

Create a Shutdown/Restart Tile in Windows 8

Windows 8 offers several ways to shut down and/or reboot the machine, but many users find these processes tricky due to the new look and placement of the interface.

You can create a custom tile on the metro scene to shut down and reboot the machine quickly.

metro text to columns
In any folder, right click and choose New, then Shortcut. In the example below I am placing the shortcut within the Documents folder.

shut down shortcut text to column

  1. In the Create Shortcut dialog box, type the appropriate command.
  • For a Shutdown shortcut, type: exe_-s_-f_-t_00
  • For a Reboot shortcut, type: exe_-r_-f_-t_00


***Please note that in the above commands, a space is represented with an underscore. You must type a space for the command to work properly. Also note that the “00” at the end of each command are zeros.***

The letters in the above shortcuts are called switches. The -s refers to “shut down”, while the -r refers to “reboot”

  1. After typing the Shutdown shortcut command, click Next and give the shutdown shortcut a name.
  2. You should see the name reflected in the designated location
  3. Right click on the shutdown shortcut and click Properties
  4. Go to the Shortcut tab and click Change Icon
    1. Click OK on the message displayed to change the icon
    2. Select your choice of Icon
    3. Click Apply and OK

shut down prop text to columns

  1. Right click again on the shortcut and choose Pin to Start
    1. The shortcut also can be pinned to the Task Bar and will always be found on the desktop with other common applications
    2. The new tile will be found all the way to the right on the metro scene
    3. The tile can be moved around on the metro scene by left-clicking and dragging the tile to your desired location
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