When you’re working with data in Excel, you may find yourself using cells containing multiple values. For example, you may see first and last names in a single cell. But sometimes you’ll want to separate text so that distinct values populate individual cells. Fortunately, Excel offers multiple easy ways to do this. Let’s learn **how to separate text in Microsoft Excel.**

## How to Separate Text in Excel (With Formulas)

Imagine a list of names, contained in column **A**. Someone sent you the file, but you’d rather have the first names and last names in their own separate columns. Of course, if you only have a few cells of text to separate, you could simply retype the data. But this would become overwhelming. Luckily, there are better ways.

First, you can use formulas to isolate individual names. Begin by clicking into cell **B2.** A basic technique is to use the **LEFT** and **RIGHT** functions in Excel. These look in an individual cell, and return a given number of values that appear in either the left or right sides of the cell.

In cell **B2**, type an **=** sign. This tells Excel that you’re inserting a formula into the cell. Then, type **LEFT(**. Your formula now reads:

=LEFT(

Now, you need to count the number of characters in the first name. Here, it’s **4**. Click into cell **A2**, type a comma, then type **4**. Close the parentheses by typing **)**, completing your formula as follows:

=LEFT(A2,4)

Hit **Enter**, and you’ll see Excel separate the first name: cell **B2** now reads **John.**

In cell **C2**, insert your **RIGHT** function, this time counting the number of letters in the last name:

=RIGHT(A2,5)

Hit **Enter**, and you’ll see Excel separate the last name: cell **C2** now reads **Smith**.

This has a key limitation; since you specified character counts, this technique won’t let you copy formulas downward unless each individual text element has the same number of characters.

Fortunately, Excel has a second option just for you.

## How to Separate Text in Excel (With Text to Columns)

Now, imagine a list of data with different lengths. The **LEFT** and **RIGHT** formulas would be difficult to utilize, since they aren’t copyable. This is the perfect time to use Excel’s powerful **Text to Columns Wizard.** Text to Columns is a smart tool that analyzes selected data, and gives you precise control over the process of separating text in Excel.

To start using it, click and drag your cursor to select your list of text that you want to separate. In this example, you’ll find that range in cells** A2:A5.**

Then, go to the **Data** tab, found on Excel’s ribbon. Near the center, you’ll see the **Text to Columns** button. Go ahead and click on it.

Excel launches the **Convert Text to Columns Wizard**. Here, you decide if data is **Delimited** or **Fixed Width.** Delimited data is data separated by spaces, commas, and so forth. It’s the default option, and the correct one here. Click **Next**.

Excel then asks you to identify the delimiters: tabs, commas, spaces, and more. In this case, the delimiter is a space, so click the **Space** checkbox. Also, ensure that no other boxes are checked. Watch in the box below: you’ll see Excel previewing how your text will separate based on your delimiter selection.

Click **Next** once again, and then click **Finish**. You’ll see that Excel instantly separates the selected range of text. The first name remains in the original column, while the second name appears in column** B**.

As you can see, it’s easy to separate text in Microsoft Excel. It’s a great way to sort and filter data in a way that works best for your project needs.