Excel tip: Use flash fill to extract data in separate columns

Flash Fill recognises a pattern in your data and is a great tool to extract a field and break it down into its component elements.For example, in this video tip Column A has the first and last name in one field. Flash Fill makes splitting the names up into two separate cells (first name and surname column) very easy.



To create Flash Fill:

  • Go to the first name column and type in the name (e.g. Janet) > press Enter
  • Type in the capital of the next first name (e.g. M)
  • The column will flash with first names > press Enter to fill the cells

Alternately, here’s another way:

  • Go to the column and type the name you wish to extract (e.g. Riley)
  • Click the cell > go to Data
  • Click the Flash Fill button or use keyboard shortcut Ctrl E


Looking to learn more about Excel? See more free Microsoft tips or browse our range Microsoft Excel courses.