How to Convert Tab Delimited Files to XLS

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A tab-delimited text file is one way that databases and other information-processing applications store data. Each tab separates the value relating to one entity (or record), while each line represents a single entity. For example, tabs can separate values like "Store Name," "Street Address," "City" and "State," while each record represents different stores. Excel contains many useful functions for processing information that can only work if such a file is converted first to .xls, which is the program's native format.

Things You'll Need

  • Microsoft Excel

Preparing

  • Open the tab-delimited text file using your favorite word processing program like Notebook or Word. Because the conversion transforms each tabbed value into a cell and each line into a table row, confirm that each line contains the same number of tabs.

  • Make sure that the information under a particular tab in one line either matches the information in the same tab on different lines or contains a blank. For example, if the third tab separates a Social Security number, then the third tab on every line must either separate the same number or contain no data.

  • Delete any blank lines or extra tabs that do not match the rest.

  • Save the file as a text file.

Converting by Opening

  • Open the text file using Excel for more precise control over the conversion. To locate the file, choose "Text Files" in the "Files of Type" drop-down list of the Open dialog box. The Text Import wizard appears.

  • Choose "Delimited" on page 1 and accept all the defaults. On page 2, choose "Tab" and make sure that the Data Preview matches your text. On page 3, you can either accept all the defaults or optionally specify a data format for each column (tab) of information.

  • Click "Finish" to import the information into the current spreadsheet. Adjust the text and column widths as needed. Then save the file under a title you choose. By default, it is stored with an .xls extension.

Converting With Cut-and-Paste

  • Use cut-and-paste for an easy conversion. Open the text file in your favorite word processor.

  • Press Ctrl+A on your keyboard to select all the contents, and then press Ctrl+C to copy them.

  • Open a blank document in Excel.

  • Click a selection box into column A, row 1. From the Edit menu, choose "Paste Special" and then "Text" from the Paste Special dialog box.

  • Click "OK" to paste the information into the current spreadsheet. Each tabbed value occupies a cell, and each line appears in each row. Adjust the text and column widths as needed.

  • Save the file under a title of your choice, which is stored under the .xls extension by default.

References

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