How to Split Columns in Google Sheets

Splitting columns in Google Sheets is a simple process that can be achieved by using the “SPLIT” function or the “Text to Columns” feature. These tools help you break down information within a cell into multiple cells, based on a specified delimiter such as a comma, space, or other characters.

After completing the action, the original column of data will be divided into separate columns, each containing a part of the data that was in the original cell. This can make your data cleaner and more organized, making it easier to analyze and manage.


When it comes to managing data, Google Sheets is a powerhouse that offers a variety of features to streamline and organize information efficiently. Whether you’re a student managing a research project, a small business owner keeping track of inventory, or an educator organizing class information, the ability to split data into separate columns is a game-changer. Imagine you have a column full of names in the format “Last Name, First Name” and you want to separate these into two distinct columns.

Without the right know-how, you might spend hours doing this manually. However, Google Sheets provides tools that can accomplish this task in just a few clicks. Knowing how to split columns can save you time, reduce errors, and help you make sense of complex data at a glance. It’s a skill that transcends professional boundaries and enters the realm of everyday utility. This guide will navigate you through the process, ensuring that you can tidy up your spreadsheets with confidence and ease.

Related: How to Make All Columns Same Width – Google Sheets

Step by Step Tutorial

This tutorial will guide you through splitting a column of data into multiple columns using Google Sheets.

Step 1: Select the Data

Click on the cell or range of cells that you want to split.

In this step, you ensure that you’re working with the correct data. If you select a range, all the data in that range will be split based on the delimiter you choose.

Step 2: Access the Data Menu

Go to the Data menu at the top of Google Sheets.

Once you have selected the data to be split, the Data menu is where you will find the functions needed to split your columns.

Step 3: Choose ‘Split text to columns’

Select “Split text to columns” from the dropdown menu.

This option automatically activates the feature that will separate your selected data into multiple columns based on a common delimiter.

Step 4: Select the Delimiter

Choose the delimiter that matches the format of your data.

Google Sheets will prompt you to select the character that’s used to separate the data you want to split. Common delimiters include commas, spaces, semicolons, periods, or you can specify a custom one.

Step 5: Format the Split Data

After the split, check and format the newly created columns if necessary.

This might involve renaming column headers, adjusting the width of the columns, or changing the format of the data (like date format, text, number, etc.) to match your needs.


Splitting columns in Google Sheets offers several benefits.

Efficient Data Management

It allows for more efficient organization and analysis of data.

By splitting columns, you can categorize data more effectively, making it easier to sort, filter, and use in formulas.


It saves a significant amount of time compared to manually editing cells.

What could take hours to do by hand can be accomplished in a matter of seconds with the split columns feature.

Improved Data Accuracy

Reduces the likelihood of human error in data entry and management.

Automation minimizes the risk of mistakes that are common when manually copying and pasting or re-typing information.


While there are many advantages, there are also some drawbacks to consider.

Loss of Original Formatting

The original data format is lost after splitting.

Once you split the data, if you didn’t back it up, there’s no undoing the split to return to the original cell’s content without manually rejoining the data.

Potential Data Misalignment

Can lead to misalignment of data if not used correctly.

If the data isn’t uniformly formatted or if the wrong delimiter is chosen, you might end up with data in the wrong columns, which can be a hassle to correct.

Limited to Simple Splits

The feature is limited to simple splits based on delimiters.

For complex data manipulation that involves conditions or multiple steps, you’ll need more advanced formulas or scripts which can be daunting for novice users.

Additional Information

While the steps above will cover most needs, here are a few additional tips to keep in mind. If your data contains multiple delimiters or if you’re dealing with inconsistent formatting, you might have to perform additional steps to get your data in shape. It’s always wise to make a copy of your original data before you start splitting, just in case things don’t go as planned.

If you’re dealing with large datasets, consider using the “FILTER” or “QUERY” function to manage and work with the newly split data more efficiently. And remember, Google Sheets allows you to use regular expressions (regex) in the custom delimiter option for even more powerful splitting capabilities.


  1. Select the Data
  2. Access the Data Menu
  3. Choose ‘Split text to columns’
  4. Select the Delimiter
  5. Format the Split Data

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my data doesn’t have a common delimiter?

You can still split your data using custom formulas that involve functions like LEFT, MID, RIGHT, or FIND, depending on the structure of your data.

Can I split a column into rows instead of columns?

Directly, no. But you can transpose the data after splitting it into columns, which will turn it into rows.

What happens if I choose the wrong delimiter?

If you choose the wrong delimiter, your data won’t split as expected. You can undo the action immediately with Ctrl + Z (Cmd + Z on a Mac) or reapply the correct delimiter.

Can I merge the columns back after splitting?

You can combine cells again using the CONCATENATE function or the “&” operator, but this will have to be done manually for each cell you wish to merge.

Is it possible to split data based on a pattern rather than a delimiter?

Yes, with the use of regular expressions in the custom delimiter option, you can split data based on a pattern.


Mastering the art of splitting columns in Google Sheets can revolutionize your data management. It’s a simple yet powerful feature that can save time, enhance productivity, and lead to greater insights from your data. By following the steps outlined, you can handle this task with confidence and precision.

Always remember to back up your data before making major changes, and don’t be afraid to experiment with the advanced features Google Sheets has to offer. For further learning, consider exploring the other functions and formulas available in Google Sheets, or join online forums and communities where you can exchange tips with other users.