tuesday’s tool

Yesterday I’m going to write about a small feature of excel that is useful importing and data… I haven’t developed this into the detailed documentation I generally create (I need to not blog myself out of employment), but hopefully at this level it will help someone… I attempted to write clearly, but did push this out quicker (and with less proofing) than I probably should. If you don’t understand or I’m really unclear, please let me know.

Generally when a csv (comma separated values) document is opened in a spreadsheet program ((I’m going to use Excel because it has become the standard and it is a good product as much as it pains me to say it)) it will automatically step you through to process to change that back into a “normal” spreadsheet.

This doesn’t always happen.

So let’s have a csv files… which contains names and years of graduation and major.

There are a few key features of this document which I’m not going to go into now. Just trust me that it’s a valid csv file. ((actually this one has a small typo, can you see where I cheated and fixed it later?))

Next we go into excel and ick! it’s all displaying in one column… so we select that “A” Column and go up to the tool bar and select Data –> Text to Columns.


A dialog box comes up…


You have a delimited file in this case. At the next screen select the delimitation type. We have “commas” and the feature that is key is to make sure that your text qualifier is set properly. In this case it is for quotes (").

Click through to “finish” (remember this is a basic introduction!)


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