Separating a Date into Component Columns

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 4, 2021)

Bob has a column of data that contains dates (mm/dd/yyyy). He would like to split these into three columns for the month, day, and year. However, when he uses the Text to Columns Wizard, it doesn't recognize the slash (/) as a delimiter. Bob wonders how he can get the date split out into components like he wants.

Depending on your version of Excel, you may or may not be able to use the Text to Column Wizard with dates. If you run through the whole wizard and nothing gets "split out" into separate columns, then that simply means your version of Excel won't allow the wizard to work with dates.

That being said, the Text to Columns Wizard probably isn't the best tool to use with dates anyway. Assuming that the dates really are dates in your worksheet, then the easiest way is to use some handy worksheet functions that Excel provides just for this purpose. Let's say that your date is in column A1. If you want the month in cell B1, you could use the following:

=MONTH(A1)

This returns a numeric value, 1 through 12, that represents the month number of the date. If you want the day in cell C1, then you can use the following:

=DAY(A1)

Finally, the year is derived in cell D1 using this formula:

=YEAR(A1)

If you are bound and determined to use the Text to Columns Wizard (and your version of Excel supports such use), you can split out your dates in this way:

  1. Select the dates.
  2. Display the Data tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the Text to Columns tool, in the Data Tools group. Excel displays the first step of the Convert Text to Columns Wizard. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The first step of the Convert Text to Columns Wizard.

  5. The Delimited radio button should be selected. Click Next. Excel displays the second step of the wizard.
  6. Make sure the Other check box is selected and type a slash (/) in the box to the right of the Other check box.
  7. Click Next. Excel displays the third step of the wizard.
  8. Click Finish.

If you don't see the dates split apart, it means your version of Excel doesn't support this usage of the Text to Columns Wizard and you'll need to use the workbook functions already mentioned. If the dates do split apart, you will probably need to change the formatting on the first column. This occurs because that column will still be formatted as "Date," and you will want to format it as something different so your month numbers display properly.

Finally, remember that if you use the Text to Columns Wizard and the source column contains formulas, then those formulas could get split apart based on the presence of any slashes in the formula. In that case you'll definitely want to use the worksheet functions mentioned earlier.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10216) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365.

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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