This guide covers everything you need to know about the Google Sheets SPLIT function, including its definition, syntax, use cases, and how to use it..
What is the SPLIT Function? How Does It Work?
The SPLIT function in Google Sheets returns a division of text around a specified character or characters, distributing each fragment into a separate cell in the row. This function is particularly useful when you have a cell filled with text that you want to divide into smaller, more manageable pieces.
To understand how the SPLIT function works, it’s important to know that it relies on the use of a delimiter – a specific character or set of characters used to indicate where the text should be split. For instance, if you have a cell containing a list of items separated by commas, you can use the SPLIT function with a comma as the delimiter to separate each item into its own cell.
Some examples of how to use the SPLIT function in Google Sheets include dividing a sentence into individual words, splitting a list of comma-separated items into separate cells, or breaking up a string of text at every instance of a specific character.
The syntax and arguments for the function are as follows:
SPLIT(text, delimiter, [split_by_each], [remove_empty_text])
Each part of the syntax represents a different aspect of the function:
- text: This is the text that you want to divide. It can be a string enclosed in quotation marks or a reference to a cell containing the text you want to split.
- delimiter: This is the character or characters that you want to use to split the text. It also needs to be a string enclosed in quotation marks.
- split_by_each: This argument is optional, and its default value is TRUE. When set to TRUE, the function will divide the text around each character contained in the delimiter. If set to FALSE, the function will divide the text around the entire string of the delimiter.
- remove_empty_text: This argument is also optional, and its default value is TRUE. When set to TRUE, the function will remove any empty text messages from the split results. If set to FALSE, the function will add empty cell values between consecutive delimiters.
Some usage notes related to the syntax and arguments include:
- The delimiter used to split the text will not be included in the resulting split text. For example, if you use a comma as your delimiter, the comma will not appear in any of the cells containing the split text.
- The split_by_each and remove_empty_text arguments are optional, and if not specified, they will default to TRUE. This means that, by default, the function will split the text around each character in the delimiter and remove any empty text messages from the results.
- If you want to include the delimiter in the split text or keep empty text messages in the results, you will need to specify these arguments and set them to FALSE.
- If the text or delimiter arguments are not specified or if they are set to an empty string, the function will return an error.
- The function will treat consecutive delimiters as one if remove_empty_text is set to TRUE. If set to FALSE, it will add empty cell values between consecutive delimiters.
- The function is not case-sensitive. It will treat upper-case and lower-case versions of the same character as the same character when splitting the text.
- The function can handle text that includes special characters, such as punctuation marks, symbols, and numbers. However, these special characters need to be included in the delimiter if you want the function to split the text around them.
Examples of How to Use the SPLIT Function
Example #1: Splitting Text into Different Cells
Imagine you have a list of full names in column A, and you want to split them into two separate columns, one for the first name and one for the last name. You can use the SPLIT function to do this.
Suppose cell A2 contains “John Doe”. You can split this into two cells by using the following formula in cell B2:
=SPLIT(A2, ” “)
This will split the text in cell A2 at the space, placing “John” in cell B2 and “Doe” in cell C2.
Example #2: Splitting Dates into Day, Month, and Year
If you have a column of dates formatted as “MM/DD/YYYY” and you want to split these into separate columns for the month, day, and year, you can use the SPLIT function.
Suppose cell A2 contains “12/25/2020”. You can split this into three cells by using the following formula in cell B2:
This will split the date in cell A2 at each slash, placing “12” in cell B2, “25” in cell C2, and “2020” in cell D2.
Example #3: Splitting Email Addresses into Username and Domain
If you have a list of email addresses and you want to split them into two parts: the username and the domain, you can use the SPLIT function.
Suppose cell A2 contains “firstname.lastname@example.org”. You can split this into two cells by using the following formula in cell B2:
This will split the email address in cell A2 at the “@”, placing “john.doe” in cell B2 and “gmail.com” in cell C2.
Example #4: Splitting Text at Every Occurrence of a Character
You can also use the SPLIT function to split a text string at every occurrence of a specific character.
Suppose cell A2 contains “apple, banana, cherry, date”. You can split this into separate cells for each fruit by using the following formula in cell B2:
=SPLIT(A2, “, “)
This will split the text in cell A2 at each comma, placing “apple” in cell B2, “banana” in cell C2, “cherry” in cell D2, and “date” in cell E2.
SPLIT: Common Mistakes & Problems
When using the SPLIT function in Google Sheets, there are several common mistakes and problems that users often encounter. Understanding these issues can help you use the function more effectively and avoid unnecessary errors:
- Incorrect Syntax: The most common mistake is not using the correct syntax. The SPLIT function must be formatted as SPLIT(text, delimiter). If the syntax is not correct, Google Sheets will return an error message.
- Not Enclosing Delimiter in Quotes: The delimiter must be enclosed in quotes. If not, the function will not work correctly.
- Using Non-Existent Delimiters: If you use a delimiter that does not exist in the text you want to split, the function will return the whole text unsplit. This is not necessarily an error, but it may not give you the expected result.
- Ignoring Case Sensitivity: The SPLIT function is case-sensitive. If you use a lowercase character as the delimiter but the text contains the same character in uppercase, the function won’t recognize it.
- Overlooking Extra Spaces: Extra spaces in the text or around the delimiter can cause unexpected results. The SPLIT function does not automatically trim extra spaces, so you’ll need to do this manually if necessary.
- Not Considering Cell Limitations: Google Sheets cells have a limit of 50,000 characters. If you’re trying to split text that exceeds this limit, the function will return an error.
- Forgetting that SPLIT Function Overwrites Data: When you use the SPLIT function, it will overwrite any data in the cells to the right of the cell you’re working in. If there is important data in these cells, make sure to move it somewhere safe before using the SPLIT function.
Understanding these common mistakes and problems can help you use the SPLIT function more effectively in Google Sheets.
Why SPLIT Is Not Working? Troubleshooting Common Errors
If you frequently use the SPLIT function in Google Sheets, you might have encountered a few errors here and there. This section will walk you through some common errors, what causes them, and how to fix them.
Cause: The #VALUE! error usually happens when the function does not recognize the text you are trying to split. This can occur if the text does not contain the delimiter you specified or if you are trying to split a cell that is empty or has a numerical value.
Solution: Double-check the cell content and the delimiter you used in the SPLIT function. Make sure that the delimiter is present in the text you want to split. If you are trying to split a cell with a number, consider converting the number to text first.
Cause: The #REF! error in Google Sheets usually means that there’s a reference issue. In the context of the SPLIT function, this error usually appears when there is not enough space for the function to return its result. For example, if you try to split a cell into three columns, but there are only two free columns to the right of the cell, Google Sheets will return a #REF! error.
Solution: To fix this, you need to ensure there is enough space for the SPLIT function to return its result. You may need to move your data or delete some columns or rows to create enough space.
Cause: The #N/A error can occur when the SPLIT function is used in an array formula and the size of the return array is not consistent. This is less common but can occur if you are trying to split multiple cells, and the number of elements after splitting varies between cells.
Solution: You can correct this error by ensuring the return array’s size is consistent. If you are splitting multiple cells, ensure they all contain the same number of delimiters.
Cause: The #ERROR! error usually means there is a problem with the function’s syntax. For example, if you forget to include the delimiter or close the parenthesis.
Solution: To correct this error, double-check the syntax of your SPLIT function. Make sure you have included the delimiter and closed the parenthesis. Consult the syntax guide if necessary.
By understanding these common errors, their causes, and solutions, you can troubleshoot and fix any issues that may arise when using the SPLIT function in Google Sheets.
Using SPLIT With Other Google Sheets Functions
Combining the SPLIT function with other Google Sheets functions can take your ability to work with data to the next level. It not only helps in breaking down data into smaller, more manageable chunks, but also aids in deriving meaningful insights from that data. Let’s explore how you can use the SPLIT function in combination with other Google Sheets functions.
Usage: The CONCATENATE function in Google Sheets is used to join two or more text strings into one text string. When combined with the SPLIT function, it allows you to split a string and then join it back in a different order or format.
Example: Suppose you have full names in column A and you want to split these names into first and last names, then join them back in the format “Last, First”. You can use the following formula:
=CONCATENATE(SPLIT(A2,” “), “, “, SPLIT(A2,” “))
This formula splits the full name in cell A2 into first and last names, then concatenates them in the order “Last, First”.
Usage: ARRAYFORMULA allows you to apply a formula to an entire column or row in Google Sheets. When used with the SPLIT function, it can split multiple cells at once.
Example: If you have a list of dates in column A in the format “dd-mm-yyyy” and you want to split them into separate day, month, and year columns, you can use the following formula:
This formula splits the dates in the range A2:A into separate day, month, and year columns.
With the LEN Function
Usage: The LEN function returns the length of a text string in Google Sheets. Combined with the SPLIT function, it can be used to count the number of words in a cell.
Example: If you have a sentence in cell A2 and you want to count the number of words in it, you can use the following formula:
This formula splits the sentence in cell A2 into words, then counts the number of words by comparing the length of the original sentence and the sentence without spaces.
For more details on the SPLIT function, check out the official documentation at the Google Docs Editors Help Center.