Microsoft Excel: How to Automate Text File Links

By David Ringstrom, CPA
 
Some time ago, I explained how to use Excel's Text to Columns Wizard for separating text within a spreadsheet into columns. Although this approach is helpful for data that's in a spreadsheet, in other cases, you may wish to link spreadsheets to text files that change periodically. In this article, I'll walk you through the steps of automating this process.
 
A common method of accessing text files is by way of the Open dialog box. As shown in Figure 1, you can choose from a variety of file types, including text files. Depending on the file type, Excel may automatically separate the data into columns, as shown in Figure 2, or leave all the data in a single column, as shown in Figure 3. Data, such as that shown in Figure 3, can then be separated into columns manually by way of the Text to Columns Wizard.
 
Figure 1: You can choose from various file types in the Open dialog box.
 
Figure 2: Excel automatically separated the data into columns.
 
Figure 3: Excel left all the data in a single column.

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