Unfortunately, there isn’t a button that you can push to combine two columns in Excel while still maintaining the data. However, there are three different ways to merge columns in Excel. In this portion of our Excel training, we will cover all three. These methods are:
- Using the “merge cells” add-in, which is arguably the easiest method of combining two columns in Excel.
- Using formulas to merge two columns into a third column.
- Using the notepad to combine two adjacent columns.
How Can I Combine Columns in Excel?
My online Excel classes will teach you not only the simplest ways to make the changes you want, but also cover the more advanced Excel training subjects such as the utilization of formulas.
Let’s start with the most time-consuming method to merge two columns in Excel using formulas.
To create a new column, right-click on the column immediately to the right of where you want the new column to appear and select “insert.” For this example, we are going to combine column A “Last Name” and column B “First Name” into the newly inserted column C “Full Name”.
The formula to combine cells in the two columns is =CONCATENATE(B2,” “,A2) and is found in the “formulas” tab of the ribbon. Select MORE FUNCTIONS, click “compatibility” and select CONCATENATE. This formula is used to combine several cells into one cell. Using the formula listed, we are telling Excel to enter the first name (B2) followed by a space (“ “) and then the last name (A2). If you wanted the full name to be listed as last name, first name enter =CONCATENATE(A2,”,”B2).
A quick way to copy the formula all the way down column C is to double-click the bottom-right corner of the cell with the formula in it or click once and drag it down the column.
Now you have the two columns combined into a third column. If you aren’t going to delete the information from the first two columns, you are done. However, if you want to delete column A or column B the formula in column C will need to be converted into a value, otherwise, all data will be lost once you delete the two columns.
1. Select all cells from column C by clicking and highlighting the entire column, or select C2 and hit (control + shift + down arrow) at once to select all cells within the column.
2. Copy to the clipboard using (control + c)
3. Right-click into any cell within column C and select “paste special” and then “values.”
4. Column C cells are now value cells and are no longer linked to columns A or B so those columns may now be deleted by clicking the column title and hitting delete.
Though this method to combine two columns in Excel requires several steps and can be time intensive depending upon the amount of data you are dealing with, it does provide a few benefits that this Excel tutorial will teach you more about. The first being that the columns you are combining do not have to be next to each other. The second benefit is having the ability to add the space, comma or any other separator between the two pieces of data. The second method for combining two columns is a bit faster.
Why on earth would you bother to go away from Excel in order to merge cells?!
I’ll give you a good reason: When your data becomes high volume, then merging cells will slow down Excel and may even crash it. Our basic Excel training for beginners will show you how to avoid this problem through the use of Notepad.
When you move to Notepad, you are dealing with very stripped back-processing.
In this example of our Excel lesson, we are going to combine the City and State columns. Using the Notepad, you can only combine columns that are next to each other.
- Select D1 and highlight it along with E1 then hit (control + shift + down arrow) to select every cell within the two columns, followed by (Control + C) to copy the cells.
- Open Notepad from your start menu and paste the contents inside.
3. For proper formatting, locate the tab in-between City and State, then hit (control + C) to copy it. Open the “find and replace” box using (control + H) and copy the tab into find. In the replace box, include a comma and a space and then select “replace all.” This should eliminate the tab between the City and State columns and change the formatting to become “city, state”.
4. Highlight all the data within the Notepad by typing (control + A) and (control +C) to copy all of the data. Switch back to Excel and use (control + V) to paste the copied data into a new column or into one of the merged columns. If you create a new column you can keep the originals or delete the unused columns.
That’s it! It isn’t rocket science to combine two columns in Excel and you don’t have to attend one of our online Excel courses to do so, but there are greater benefits to undertaking our Excel training. To learn more via Excel tutorial and Excel training, Excel and Earn provides numerous resources to help you hone your spreadsheet-making skills.