Splitting a Cell in Google Sheets

admin31 March 2023Last Update :

Mastering the Art of Cell Division in Google Sheets

Google Sheets is a powerful tool for data organization, analysis, and collaboration. One of the essential skills in managing data within Google Sheets is the ability to split cell contents into multiple cells. This can be particularly useful when dealing with imported data, or when you need to reformat or clean up data for better analysis. In this article, we will delve into the various methods of splitting cell contents in Google Sheets, providing you with the knowledge to handle your data with precision and ease.

Understanding the Need for Splitting Cells

Before we dive into the how-to, it’s important to understand why splitting cells can be so crucial. Data often comes in various formats, and not all of it is ready for immediate use. For instance, you might have a column of names in the format “Last Name, First Name” that you want to split into separate columns for better sorting and searching. Or perhaps you have a list of product codes and descriptions combined in one cell that you need to separate for inventory management. Splitting cells helps in making data more accessible and easier to manipulate.

Manual Text-to-Columns: The Basic Split

The most straightforward method to split cell contents in Google Sheets is using the built-in “Split text to columns” feature. This feature allows you to divide text from one cell into multiple cells based on a specified delimiter such as a comma, space, or custom character.

Step-by-Step Guide to Text-to-Columns

  1. Select the cell or range of cells that you want to split.
  2. Go to the Data menu and choose Split text to columns.
  3. A small menu will appear at the bottom of your selected range. Choose the delimiter that matches the format of your data (e.g., comma, space, semicolon).
  4. If your data requires a unique delimiter, select Custom and enter the character you wish to use.
  5. Watch as Google Sheets automatically splits the content of your selected cells into new columns based on your chosen delimiter.

This method is quick and efficient for straightforward tasks, but it may not be suitable for more complex data structures or when you need more control over the splitting process.

Advanced Techniques: Using Formulas to Split Cells

When you need more flexibility or have to deal with irregular data, formulas come to the rescue. Google Sheets offers several functions that can be combined to split cell contents in various ways.

Splitting with the SPLIT Function

The SPLIT function is a powerful tool that divides text around a specified delimiter and places each fragment into a separate adjacent cell. Here’s how to use it:

=SPLIT(text, delimiter, [split_by_each], [remove_empty_text])

For example, to split a name into first and last names using a space as the delimiter, you would use:

=SPLIT(A1, " ")

This formula will take the content of cell A1 and split it at every space, spreading the results across multiple cells in the same row.

Extracting Text with LEFT, MID, and RIGHT

Sometimes, you may need to extract specific parts of a cell’s content based on their position. The LEFT, MID, and RIGHT functions are perfect for this task. They allow you to pull a certain number of characters from the beginning, middle, or end of a text string, respectively.

=LEFT(text, number_of_characters)
=MID(text, start_position, number_of_characters)
=RIGHT(text, number_of_characters)

For instance, if you have a product code in cell A2 that starts with a three-letter prefix you want to isolate, you could use:

=LEFT(A2, 3)

This formula will return the first three characters from the content of cell A2.

Combining Functions for Complex Splits

In some cases, you might encounter data that requires a combination of functions to split effectively. For example, if you have a string of text where you need to extract a section that’s always after a certain character, you could use a combination of FIND and MID functions.

=MID(A3, FIND("-", A3) + 1, LENGTH(A3))

This formula finds the position of the hyphen in cell A3 and extracts all text after it.

Regular Expressions: The Power User’s Tool

For those who are comfortable with regular expressions, Google Sheets offers the REGEXEXTRACT, REGEXMATCH, and REGEXREPLACE functions. These functions provide a robust way to manipulate text based on pattern matching.

Extracting Data with REGEXEXTRACT

The REGEXEXTRACT function can pull specific text from a cell that matches a given regular expression pattern.

=REGEXEXTRACT(text, regular_expression)

For example, to extract the domain name from an email address in cell A4, you could use:

=REGEXEXTRACT(A4, "@(.+)")

This formula will return the domain part of the email address, excluding the “@” symbol.

Splitting Cells Across Rows Instead of Columns

While most splitting tasks involve dividing data across columns, there may be times when you need to split data across rows. Google Sheets doesn’t have a built-in feature for this, but with a little ingenuity and scripting, it can be accomplished.

Using Google Apps Script for Row Splits

Google Apps Script is a JavaScript-based language that allows you to extend the functionality of Google Sheets. With a custom script, you can create a function that splits cell contents and places them into separate rows.

Here’s a simple example of a script that splits a cell’s content by commas and places each item in a new row:

function splitCellIntoRows() {
  var sheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSpreadsheet().getActiveSheet();
  var range = sheet.getActiveRange();
  var cellContent = range.getValue();
  var splitContent = cellContent.split(",");
  range.clearContent(); // Clear the original cell
  for (var i = 0; i < splitContent.length; i++) {
    sheet.getRange(range.getRow() + i, range.getColumn()).setValue(splitContent[i].trim());

To use this script, you would need to open the script editor from the Extensions menu in Google Sheets, paste the code, save it, and then run the splitCellIntoRows function while having the target cell selected.

FAQ Section

Can I split cells based on multiple delimiters at once?

Yes, you can use the SPLIT function with a regular expression as the delimiter to split based on multiple characters. For example, to split based on commas or semicolons, you could use:

=SPLIT(A1, "[,;]")

How do I prevent Google Sheets from splitting my data into separate columns?

If you want to keep the split data in the same column, you can use a combination of the ARRAYFORMULA and SPLIT functions with a TRANSPOSE function. This will split the data and transpose it into rows instead of columns.


Is there a way to split cells without using formulas or scripts?

Yes, you can use the “Split text to columns” feature under the Data menu for a quick and formula-free way to split cells based on common delimiters.

What happens to the data in adjacent cells when I split a cell into multiple columns?

When you split a cell into multiple columns, Google Sheets will overwrite any existing data in the cells where the split data will go. It’s important to ensure that there is enough empty space to accommodate the split data or to move existing data to prevent loss.

Can I undo a cell split in Google Sheets?

Yes, you can undo a cell split by pressing Ctrl + Z (or Cmd + Z on Mac) immediately after performing the split. If you’ve made other changes after the split, you can use the version history feature to revert to a previous state of the sheet.


Splitting cells in Google Sheets is a versatile skill that can greatly enhance your data management capabilities. Whether you’re using the straightforward “Split text to columns” feature, harnessing the power of formulas, or leveraging regular expressions for complex patterns, there’s a method to suit every need. With the insights and techniques provided in this article, you’re now equipped to tackle any cell-splitting challenge that comes your way.

Remember that while Google Sheets provides a wealth of built-in tools, sometimes a custom script may be necessary for unique requirements. Don’t hesitate to explore the possibilities of Google Apps Script for those special cases. With practice and creativity, you’ll find that splitting cells can be more than just a mundane task—it can be the key to unlocking the full potential of your data.

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