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Word Tables and Delimited Text

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in The Office Tech Pro

If you’ve ever spent anytime copying and pasting text data into Word tables or trying to get data out of tables and into a simple list in a document, these tips might make you grumble a little. The good news is you’ll never have to do that again!

If you have delimited text, meaning text items separated by characters such as commas, tabs or spaces, you can with a couple of clicks turn it directly into a table. In Word 2003, you’d start by clicking on the Table drop down menu and select Convert, then Text to Table….

In Word 2007, you’ll find the Table drop down button on the Insert tab in the Tables group.

Both will bring up the Convert Text to Table dialog box. Simply identify the delimeter or delimeters used and, voila, a table!

You can also do the reverse. If you have data in a Word table, for example, that you’d like to save as comma separated or tab separated values, follow nearly the same procedures for Word 2003, except choose Convert table to text. In 2007, while clicked into the table, choose the Table Tools Layout Contextual tab. Then, in the Data group on the far right, choose the Convert to Text button.

If you prefer to have your data showing as a plain list, perhaps separated by tab, did you know that you can sort it by any “field”? So, if your list was First Name, Last Name, Address, you could sort by Last Name. In Word 2007, look in the Paragraph group on the home tab and you’ll spot the A to Z Sort Ascending button. In 2003, you’ll find this on the Table drop down button and just under the Convert choice we saw above. It might not seem intuitive to choose this, but this sort option “doesn’t care” if the data is not arranged in a table.

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