How to Split Cells in Excel

There are several ways to do it

What to Know

  • Use Convert Text to Columns or Flash Fill to split a selected cell.
  • Use Left and Right Excel functions to split one cell into two.
  • Merge & Center lets you span one cell across multiple adjacent cells.

This article explains how to split a cell in Excel into individual cells.

How Do I Split a Cell Into Multiple Cells?

There are several ways to split a cell into multiple cells, depending on the content of the cell you want to split.

Split a Cell With Convert Text to Columns

You need to determinate a pattern in order to split a cell. This pattern would be some delimiter like a comma, semicolon, or colon.

  1. In the example below, you can see the cell contains a semicolon between each piece of information. This semicolon lets you split those individual elements into other cells.

    A cell in Excel before its data is split into many cells.
  2. Select the cells you want to split. Select Data from the menu and select Text to Columns from the ribbon.

    Data and Text to Columns features highlighted in Excel.
  3. Select the Delimited radio button from the pop-up window and select the Next button.

    The Delimited feature highlighted in Excel.
  4. Select the appropriate delimiter character (in this example, semicolon), and select the Next button. You will see a preview of what the output cells will look like.

    The Delimiter function highlighted in Excel.

    If none of the listed delimiters works for your situation, you can select Other and type the delimiter in the text box. Also if your delimiter character is in multiples (like spaces), you can select the checkbox next to Treat consecutive delimiters as one.

  5. In this final window, you can choose the format for your output cells, as well as the destination for your newly split cells. Select the Finish button when you're done.

    Checking the output if split cells in Excel.
  6. Finally, you'll see the results in your main spreadsheet. If you've set up everything right, your original cell will split perfectly across multiple cells.

    Screenshot of multiple cells output

Split a Cell With Excel Functions

You can do the same thing using Excel functions. This approach is best if the cell only contains two parts you need to split. The benefit is using a function is much faster than the previous method.

  1. In this example, to split out the left side of the information, you'll need to use Excel's LEFT function. Place the cursor in the cell where you want that information to go and type =LEFT(A1,FIND(";",A1)-1). Press Enter.

    The Left function example highlighted in Excel.

    Replace "A1" in the example here with the source cell you want to split.

  2. Place the cursor into the next output cell and use Excel's RIGHT function to extract the right side of the source string. To do this, type =RIGHT(A1,LEN(A1)-FIND(";",A1)). Press Enter to finish.

    The Right function example highlighted in Excel.
  3. When you're done, your first cell will be split into two. Fill each of these down to split the rest of the cells. Hold the Shift key down and place the cursor at the lower right corner of the cell until it changes into two lines with an arrow above and below. Double-click the mouse to fill down. Repeat this with both columns.

    Screenshot of filling split cells down

Split Cells Using Flash Fill

Flash Fill in Excel is a very convenient feature which will magically figure out the delimiter based on an example you type in adjacent cells.

  1. In the first cell next to your original cell you want to split, type the first segment of the cell. Then select that cell and press CTRL + E. Excel automatically recognizes what delimiter you're using based on your example and will finish splitting the rest of the cells below it for you.

    Screenshot of completed flash fill
  2. Repeat this same process with the other sections you want to split and use Flash Fill to split out the cells underneath it.

    The Home section and the Merge & Center function example highlighted in Excel.

Split One Cell Across Multiple Adjacent Cells

If you'd like to make one cell span across several cells next to it, there is a simple trick to do this.

  1. Select the cell and all cells next to it you'd like to span across multiple cells below (or beside) it.

    Screenshot of selecting cells to merge
  2. Select Home in the menu and then select Merge & Center from the ribbon. When you're done, all selected cells will merge into one and span across multiple cells next to it.

    Screenshot of merged cells
  • How do I remove duplicates in Excel?

    Excel has built-in tools to highlight duplicates and remove them automatically. First, highlight the cells you want to check. Then, go to Home > Conditional Formatting > Highlight Cells Rules > Duplicate Values and choose how to mark the duplicate values. To delete them, highlight the cells, and then go to Data > Remove Duplicates.

  • How do I lock cells in Excel?

    To stop from accidentally overwriting information in Excel cells, you can lock them. Select the ones you want to protect, and then go to Home > Alignment group > Format Cells. Choose the Protection tab, and then click the checkbox next to Locked. To protect an entire worksheet or workbook, choose the Review tab and click Protect Sheet or Protect Workbook.

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