Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Delimited Text-to-Columns in a Macro.

Delimited Text-to-Columns in a Macro

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 20, 2019)

1

One of the handiest features in Excel is the Text to Columns feature, which allows you to easily split cell contents into individual cells according to any criteria you specify. One method of using the feature is to allow it to recognize characters within the cells and use those characters to trigger where the split should take place. This type of splitting is referred to as a delimited split.

You may be wondering how you can perform a delimited text-to-columns operation in a macro you may be writing. This is easy enough to do by using the TextToColumns method on a selection you set up. Consider the following very simple macro:

Sub ExampleSplit1()
    Selection.TextToColumns _
      Destination:=Range("A2"), _
      DataType:=xlDelimited, _
      TextQualifier:=xlDoubleQuote, _
      ConsecutiveDelimiter:=False, _
      Tab:=True, _
      Semicolon:=False, _
      Comma:=False, _
      Space:=False, _
      Other:=True, _
      OtherChar:="-"
End Sub

Notice all the variables that you can set for the TextToColumns method. Most of these variables are only necessary because this is a delimited split; the variables set what is used as a delimiter by the method. Beginning with the Tab line, the variables correspond directly to the settings you would make in Step 2 of the Convert Text to Columns Wizard, if you were manually using the feature. You can set Tab, Semicolon, Comma, and Space to either True or False, depending on whether you want that character used as a delimiter.

You can also set the Other variable to True or False, depending on whether you want to have a "user defined" delimiter. If you set it to True, then you should set the OtherChar variable equal to the character you want used as a delimiter.

If you use the TextToColumns method multiple times in the same macro, the only thing you need to do on invocations subsequent to the first is to change variables that differ from the previous invocation. For instance, let's say that you are calling the method twice in the same macro, and the first time you want the split to be on an instance of the dash character, but the second you want it to be on any instance of a lowercase x. You can put the macro together like this:

Sub ExampleSplit2()
    Dim objRange1 As Range
    Dim objRange2 As Range

    'Set up the ranges
    Set objRange1 = Range("A2:A20")
    Set objRange2 = Range("A21:A35")

    'Do the first parse
    objRange1.TextToColumns _
      Destination:=Range("A2"), _
      DataType:=xlDelimited, _
      Tab:=False, _
      Semicolon:=False, _
      Comma:=False, _
      Space:=False, _
      Other:=True, _
      OtherChar:="-"

    'Do the second parse
    objRange2.TextToColumns _
      Destination:=Range("A21"), _
      DataType:=xlDelimited, _
      OtherChar:="x"
End Sub

Note:

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ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8317) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Delimited Text-to-Columns in a Macro.

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 2 + 8?

2019-08-02 09:01:07

Dennis Costello

The fact that the parameters are "sticky" - that TextToColumns - e.g. if the comma parameter is elided, it will have the same value as the last time it was invoked. That stickiness extends to the spreadsheet action, too - if you do TextToColumns with space delimiting in VBA, space delimiting will be in place the next time you do a TextToColumns in the DataTools box on the Data ribbon. More insidiously, it will also apply the next time you just paste something into a column. So it's a good practice in VBA to do a "null" TextToColumns at the end of your macro, turning off all these parameters.

Been burned by this in the past...

On a related note, one might wish, when using TextToColumns in a macro, to find out what the current sticky settings are before changing them in your invocation, so you can do the "null" TextToColumns in a way that restores those parameters. I'm sure there's a set of properties somewhere containing this (perhaps read-only), but I've never been able to find them.


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