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Using NotePad++ to Separate Text Into Columns

Tonight's tip comes from the blog of Catherine Wilhelmsen by way of the Litigation Support Guru, Amy Bowser Rollins. NotePad++ allows you to edit large amounts of text far more quickly than Excel. However you may have found it frustrating like I have that it lacks a text to columns tool. Catherine's blog posting demonstrates how you can effectively use the function of Excel's text to column tool in NotePad ++.

Before beginning to edit a text file go to the Plugins menu and select Plugin Manager . . . Show Plugin Manager. Then install TextFX Characters. When this plugin has been installed (it should be necessary to restart) you'll see a new menu heading named, 'TextFX'.

As Catherine explains, you simply select the character(s) you want to align the file into columns by, copy it, select all of the text in the file, and then go to TextFX . . . TextFX Edit . . . Line up multiple characters by lines (Clipboard Character), and text will be arranged in columns. You'll see you can select an individual column or multiple columns by putting the cursor at the beginning of a column and holding down CTRL + SHIFT + END, and then pressing ALT + SHIFT and using the arrow keys. It is then possible to rearrange the columns by cutting and pasting them.

You can also sort the text by columns by selecting text in the same fashion and going to TextFX . . . TextFX Tools . . . Sort lines case insensitive (at column). Selecting individual columns won't sort them in isolation from the rest of the text.

See the demonstration of this method on my YouTube channel.

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