How to Split VBA Strings with Multiple Delimiters (Excel)

Written by Kasper Langmann

In the realm of data manipulation, string splitting is a fundamental operation that programmers often encounter. In Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), a programming language used in Microsoft Excel, this task can be accomplished with relative ease. However, when dealing with multiple delimiters, the process can become a bit more complex. This guide will walk you through the process of splitting VBA strings with multiple delimiters in Excel.

Understanding VBA Strings

Before diving into the process of splitting strings, it’s essential to understand what a string is in the context of VBA. A string is a sequence of characters that can include letters, numbers, and symbols. In VBA, strings are enclosed in double quotes (“”). For instance, “Hello, World!” is a string.

Strings can be manipulated in various ways in VBA, such as concatenation (joining two strings), extraction (getting a part of the string), and splitting (breaking the string into smaller parts based on a specified delimiter).

What are Delimiters?

In the context of string manipulation, a delimiter is a character or a set of characters that separates text into different parts. Common delimiters include commas (,), semicolons (;), and spaces. For example, in the string “apple,banana,cherry”, the comma is the delimiter.

When dealing with multiple delimiters, the string is split into parts based on any of the specified delimiters. For instance, if the delimiters are a comma and a space, the string “apple, banana cherry” will be split into “apple”, “banana”, and “cherry”.

Splitting VBA Strings with a Single Delimiter

Before we tackle multiple delimiters, let’s first understand how to split a VBA string with a single delimiter. VBA does not have a built-in function to split strings, but we can use the Split function in Excel.

The Split function syntax is as follows: Split(text_string, delimiter, limit, compare). Here, ‘text_string’ is the string you want to split, ‘delimiter’ is the character you want to split the string by, ‘limit’ is the maximum number of splits, and ‘compare’ is the type of comparison to perform.

Example of Splitting a String with a Single Delimiter

Consider the following example: we have a string “apple,banana,cherry” and we want to split it by the comma delimiter. Here’s how we can do it:


Sub SplitString()
    Dim fruits As String
    Dim fruitArray() As String

    fruits = "apple,banana,cherry"
    fruitArray = Split(fruits, ",")

    For Each fruit In fruitArray
        Debug.Print fruit
    Next fruit
End Sub

When you run this code, it will print “apple”, “banana”, and “cherry” in the Immediate window.

Splitting VBA Strings with Multiple Delimiters

Now, let’s move on to splitting VBA strings with multiple delimiters. Since the Split function only accepts one delimiter, we need to use a different approach. One way to do this is by using the Replace function to replace all delimiters with a common one, and then use the Split function.

The Replace function syntax is as follows: Replace(expression, find, replace_with, start, count, compare). Here, ‘expression’ is the string expression containing substring to replace, ‘find’ is the substring to find, ‘replace_with’ is the replacement substring, ‘start’ is the position where the search starts, ‘count’ is the number of substring replacements to perform, and ‘compare’ is the type of string comparison.

Example of Splitting a String with Multiple Delimiters

Consider the following example: we have a string “apple, banana;cherry” and we want to split it by the comma, space, and semicolon delimiters. Here’s how we can do it:


Sub SplitStringMultipleDelimiters()
    Dim fruits As String
    Dim fruitArray() As String

    fruits = "apple, banana;cherry"
    fruits = Replace(fruits, ",", " ")
    fruits = Replace(fruits, ";", " ")
    fruitArray = Split(fruits, " ")

    For Each fruit In fruitArray
        Debug.Print fruit
    Next fruit
End Sub

When you run this code, it will print “apple”, “banana”, and “cherry” in the Immediate window.

Conclusion

Splitting VBA strings with multiple delimiters in Excel might seem challenging at first, but with the correct use of the Split and Replace functions, it can be done efficiently. Remember, the key is to replace all delimiters with a common one before using the Split function.

While this guide provides a basic understanding of the process, string manipulation in VBA is a vast topic that includes many other functions and methods. Therefore, it’s essential to continue exploring and practicing to enhance your VBA skills further.