How to Create Tab Delimited Files

By Robert Karr

Creating tab delimited files, that is, files where individual records are indicated by the tab character, depends on what the current form of your data is. In Microsoft Word or another word processing program, it's a simple matter of using the Find and Replace operation. In Excel it involves saving a file in a special way. Tab delimited files can also be created from scratch.

Step 1

Create a brand new file that will be tab-delimited by opening a text editor like Notepad. Key in the first record and follow it by pressing the "Tab" key. Instead of saving as a "txt" file, insert a period and the word "tab" after the file name and then chose "all files (*)" for the type.

Step 2

Convert Word files where each line of text is a separate record to a tab-delimited version by pressing "Ctrl-F," then click on the "Replace" tab.

Step 3

Continue converting a Word file by inserting a caret followed by the letter p, that is, ^p in the "Find what" box. In the "Replace with" insert a caret followed by the letter t, that is ^t. Click "Replace all."

Step 4

Convert Excel files to a tab-delimited version by clicking on "File" and then "Save as." In the drop-down list of file types choose "text (tab-delimited)."

Step 5

Change the file extension on any of the above results if it is not already "tab" to this ending.

Tips & Warnings

  • Having the original data in rows and columns makes the conversion easier.
  • Unless your data is well-organized in the original version, the results probably will not be what you expect.

References & Resources