Microsoft Excel: How to Automate Text File Links

However, many users don't realize there's an alternate way to access text files that can minimize steps, and perhaps even automate integrating text file-based data into your spreadsheets. To do so:
  • Excel 2007 and later: Choose From Text in the Get External Data section of the Data tab.
  • Excel 2003 and earlier: Choose Data, Import External Data, and then Import Data.
At this point, in any version of Excel, you'll be presented with a variation of the Open dialog box:
  • Excel 2007 and later: The dialog box is labeled Import Text Files.
  • In Excel 2003 and earlier: The dialog box is labeled Select Data Source.
Regardless of your Excel version, browse to your text file and then click the Import button. A new dialog box labeled Text Import Wizard will appear. This wizard is identical to the Text to Columns Wizard, but I'll walk through the steps for anyone unfamiliar with either:
 
On the first screen of the wizard, you signify whether your text file is delimited for fixed width:
  • Delimited: Signifies there's a separator between each field, such as a tab, comma, space, semi-colon, or perhaps the | character, which is referred to as the pipe symbol.
  • Fixed width: Signifies that each field is allocated a specific number of characters, meaning the data lines up evenly in columns.
As shown in Figure 4, a data preview window shows you the first few rows of the text file as an aid in determining the file type. Once you choose delimited or fixed width, click Next to proceed to the next step in the wizard.
 
Figure 4: Excel provides a data preview window where you can view the first few rows of your text file.

You may like these other stories...

Cybersecurity is no longer the domain of an organization's IT staff. It's moved to the boardroom, and in a big way. Accountants and financial managers may have been thinking it's just the province of the tech...
You probably don't want to think about how many times you access the File menu in Excel 2010 or 2013. Personally I think Excel 2010 has the best possible File menu arrangement, other than having Print Preview grafted...
Following other recent high-profile hacking events, investigators discovered yesterday that hackers broke into the draft work paper files of several famous CPA firms. Revealing images of the scantily clad documents have been...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Sep 24
In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards. A dashboard condenses large amounts of data into a compact space, yet enables the end user to easily drill down into details when warranted.
Sep 30
This webcast will include discussions of important issues in SSARS No. 19 and the current status of proposed changes by the Accounting and Review Services Committee in these statements.
Oct 21
Kristen Rampe will share how to speak and write more effectively by understanding your own and your audience's communication style.
Oct 23
Amber Setter will show the value of leadership assessments as tools for individual and organizational leadership development initiatives.