Excel Useful Features – using flash fill and text to columns in spreadsheets

Useful Excel Features – how can I use the flash fill and text to columns features in my spreadsheets? Watch the video to learn more

Excel useful features: Excel iconThis week’s hint and tip is on the some Excel useful features. The features we take a look at are flash fill and text to columns and how they can be used in spreadsheets. We also look at the TRIM function as well. These are covered briefly in our courses, one being our Advanced Excel training course but we decided to do a hint and tip on them too. We are going to go through them now below.


What is Flash Fill?

Flash fill is a feature in Excel that allows you to quickly enter data into a column from other columns without the need for a formula or manual typing. It can allow you to merge together information from two cells into one or reverse by splitting information in a cell up into two. Once you have typed in your information once or twice, Excel will see the pattern you want creating and automatically offer to fill in the rest of the information. This can be a quick and efficient way to bring together or split up information.

In our example, it works on recognising as logic in the first 2 columns. So then after you type the first full name into column C and begin typing the second full name in column C flash fill recognises the symmetry and fills the rest of the column rows.


What is the Text to Columns feature?

Text to columns is a feature that enables you to split up information in a cell into multiple columns. This feature allows you to split the information up by a number of ‘separators’. Some examples are spaces and commas. This can be very useful if you have a spreadsheet with addresses in it that are all in one cell. Using the text to columns feature you can split the address up into multiple columns.

In our example we split firstly the full name into two names via the space and in the second example the address is split via a comma.


What is the TRIM function?

The TRIM function remove redundant spaces from a string. In this case there is a space before the town. Sometimes it’s not easy to spot the spaces and these are characters in their own right so having TRIM may help greatly to tidy up your data.


The video below shows you how to use these Excel useful features. It goes through what each feature does in the spreadsheet and how to use it.

Take a look below at the video to find out more and then try it out on your own computer!

We hope you have enjoyed this hint and tip on the Excel useful features. Why not take a look at our previous one on creating pivot tables from an Excel table?