Step-By-Step Guide to Splitting Cells In Google Sheets

Updated June 24, 2022

People use spreadsheets for logging, presenting, storing, solving, sorting and filtering data. While using Google Sheets, you may want to separate columns, sort data or filter information in your document, and you can split cells containing information to do this. There are two common methods for splitting cells into columns on Google Sheets, both of which require a couple of simple and easy steps.

In this article, we explain what splitting cells in Google Sheets is, explore why you might want to do this and offer a step-by-step guide on how to split cells in the program using both the " Split text to columns" option and the SPLIT() function.

Related: How To Create a Google Spreadsheet

What is splitting cells in Google Sheets?

Splitting cells in Google Sheets is somewhat similar to adding a column or row to a spreadsheet. Splitting cells is a process that starts in one individual cell. In this spreadsheet program, you can split cells in a table either horizontally or vertically, depending on what you are creating the spreadsheet for or what you want it to look like.

Related: How To Make a Graph in Google Sheets

Why split a cell in Google Sheets?

You may split cells in your Google Sheets document for a number of reasons, such as easier readability or accessibility. You can split any cells with more than one word into separate columns, which can allow you to sort cell content in a more efficient manner. You can also filter this information while it's in separate cells and columns.

Related: Computer Skills: Definitions and Examples

How to split cells in Google Sheets using the Split text to columns option

Splitting cells in Google Sheets is a simple and easy process. Here's a step-by-step guide to do this using the "Split text to columns" option:

1. Identify cells to split

Once you've opened up the spreadsheet, navigate to the cells you'd like to split and click on them. To increase or decrease the number of cells you'd like to split, click and drag your cursor over additional or fewer cells on the spreadsheet. If the cells are highlighted, then you've selected them, but if they aren't or if you'd like to change which cells to split, you can redo this selection process.

2. Split cells

Next, you can begin the process of splitting cells into columns. After you've highlighted all the cells you'd like to split, first navigate to the settings and editing toolbar toward the top of the program on the screen. Hover over the words "Data," and a drop-down menu appears. Select the menu option that says "Split text to columns," which splits the cells.

3. Set automatic cell splitting detection

Once the cells split into separate columns, a small box that reads "Separator" may pop up on the screen near the end of the column of cells you split. Click on this box, and a menu appears. Select the menu options that says, "Detect automatically," then select the menu option that says "Space." From there, future cells will automatically separate.

5. Save your spreadsheet

Now, you may save your updated spreadsheet. To do this, navigate to the top left area of the program screen and click on the word "File." From the drop-down menu, select the word "Save," and the new spreadsheet saves to your Google Sheets gallery.

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How to split cells in Google Sheets using the SPLIT() function

You may also use what is called a SPLIT() function to split cells in your spreadsheet. This function requires you to actually specify which cell to split and the type of separator you'd like to use inside of the cell. In this case, the type of separator is a space, and you would use the following formula: =SPLIT(A2," "). You can do this by performing the following two steps:

1. Set SPLIT() equation

Set your SPLIT() equation to apply to all the cells you'd like to split. In the formula bar above the individual cells, copy and paste the =SPLIT(A2," ") formula to apply to all the relevant cells to make the process as simple and easy as possible. This equation automatically splits information into the next column, provided there is one available.

2. Save new document

Once you've applied the formula, you can save your new spreadsheet. In the top left area of the program screen, the word "File" is present. Click on this word, and a drop-down menu appears. Select the "Save" menu option, and the updated spreadsheet is now available in your spreadsheet gallery.

Related: Databases vs. Spreadsheets: Definitions and Differences

Tips for splitting cells

When splitting cells in Google Sheets, you may consider the following tips to make the process easier:

  • Filter data first: It may be helpful to filter your data before you split cells into columns in your spreadsheet, especially if you are handling a large dataset. You can filter data by navigating to the "Data" option in the settings and editing menu, selecting the "Create a filter" option and then using the drop-down list to see by which metrics you can filter your data.

  • Lock cells to ensure specific cells don't move: You may wish to lock certain cells within your spreadsheet to avoid losing any data. To do this, highlight any cell or range of cells that you'd like to protect, navigate to the "Data" option in the settings and editing menu, click on the “Protected sheets and ranges” option, give the range a title and set permissions for it to ensure it's protected.

  • Continuously save your work: It may be helpful to continuously save your work as you update your spreadsheet. This way, all your updates and content stay as relevant and up-to-date as possible. Although Google Sheets typically uses an automatic save feature, it's beneficial to check and make sure you are connected to the internet, as this is what allows the automatic save feature to work.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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