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You can also bring information into Excel in a text file format. Open up a brand new spreadsheet to play with this. Now, for those of you that don't know, a text file is a list of information that's usually been extracted from another database source. And this might sound like jargon to people who are brand-new to working with Excel, but you would be given one of these lists from someone else in your organization. Usually you will get a text file from a large database such as your employee database or your financial database, and the person that manages that can take all of the information in there, export it out from that database, and it into what they call the text file. And then they'll hand it to you, for you to do the analysis with.
Now, once you get that what do you do with it? Well, you go back over to your Data tab, and this time you select From Text, as your choice. So you open up that, and now again, we're going to take a look and find these files. They're Included in the Exercise File folder, number 14, under import and exporting data. If you watch the movie on how to import directly from an Access database, you'll know that we were working with the EatCake address list. I also exported that information as a text file for this example. Notice that the information is shown a little bit differently. And Excel is smart enough not to show you both pieces. You're not going to make a mistake and pick the wrong kind of file when you're importing as a text file. You're not going to pick an Access database to try to import when you're importing as a text file.
Excel is smart enough to only show you the files that you need to see. You select the file that you're interested in, in this case it's the EatCake address list, and you click the Import button. Now, don't get put off by this Import Wizard, it's really, very simple. What it's doing is it's going to walk you through, breaking up the information so that it fits into your Excel spreadsheet. The first thing you want to identify is what is this type. Excel knows it's a text file, but it doesn't know what kind. In this first area here, it's asking you how is the information broken up? Is it delimited? Which means it's broken up by a character, a comma, a tab or are all the fields the same width? So that I know that the very first field is one character long. And my second field is 12 characters long. The Fixed Width is usually used more for older type databases, where you have a set size of fields that you're bringing across. More often than not, you're going to select delimited.
And then in the next screen, you're going to identify what is breaking up your data. Now, if you take a look at the little preview box below here, you'll see that it's showing me the information that's included in my text file, and it's showing me how it's broken up. So this is really a little preview of the actual information that's included in my text files. So as you open up different files, you're going to see different pieces of information down here. And it should match to what you're trying to open up. So I can see here that the information is broken up by commas.
So, technically this is a comma delimited file. If it was broken up by tabs, you'd see a little black box in between each of your pieces of information. Those are the two most common types of text files that you'll be working with. Alright so, I picked Delimited, And now I click my Next button. Okay, step two. How is this broken up? You will have to tell Excel, how are you going to break up the data? How is this going to know that it's going to put the number of the person in the first column, in their first name in the second column, and their last name in the third column, and so on. You have to point it out to excel.
You identify what delimiters there are. Now these are the most common that you will work with, as I mentioned before, tab and comma are really the two that I've worked with the most often. Tab is usually the default text file option that you're going to get, but in this case, it's not breaking my data correctly. So I'm going to deselect it and I'm going to pick Comma. See how my data previews changed? It's now previewing for me, how it's going to look in my Excel spreadsheet. Okay, it's put lines in between all of my pieces of of data.
So basically, what it's showing me is giving me a preview of how this information is going to go into my Excel spreadsheet. So this is a really good window to linger on when you're doing this for the first few times, because this really gives you an idea of whether or not you've picked the right delimiter, and your information's going to come into Excel properly. It also allows you to scroll across the different columns, and you can grab and look at every piece of information you're going to bring into your spreadsheet. If you're happy with that, you click the Next button. Now what this step does is it asks you, "Is there any particular format you want to bring this information in?" If it all has to be text, you can select that, if you're bringing in a bunch of dates, and that's all you're bringing in, you can select that, but usually you're bringing in a combination of data.
So you're going to want to leave it to the default under General. Only select one of these other options if the information is of all the same type. Once you've done that, you click Finish, identify where you want to put the data, always making sure that you have enough room to fill a cross, and that you're not going to overwrite anything that's already in your spreadsheet. Click OK and in comes your information. Not as nicely formatted as when we brought it directly in from Access, it's just a list right now, and we could select it, and put in any of the other table formatting that we've learned about in previous movies.
Then we're away to the races. So you can see that bringing in information from external sources, especially text files, is very easy in Excel 2007.
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