Splitting coordinate values in Google Sheets

Draft, 12 April 2016
This page should be in a useful state, but still needs work before it's finished.

The problem

You’ve got a CSV file containing geolocated place data that you want to import into mapping program, but the coordinates are combined in a single column. How can you separate the latitude and longitude into separate columns?

The solution

Splitting the data

Here’s a CSV file plotting locations of bus stops in Canberra. If you open it up you’ll see that the stop_lat field actually contains both the latitude and longitude. Let’s split them into separate columns.

  • Upload your CSV file to Google Drive and open it in Sheets.
  • Hover over the stop_lat column header (Column E in this example) and click on the down arrow. Choose ‘Insert 1 right’ to add a new empty column.
  • Repeat the step above so there are two empty columns ready to hold the latitude and longitude.
  • Find the first row containing data (Row 2 in this example) and select the first empty cell next to the stop_lat field. In this example it would be cell F2.
  • In the function box type =SPLIT(E2, ", "). Hit enter. Magic! The contents of E2 have been split between F2 and G2.
  • What just happened? the SPLIT function takes two parameters: the thing you want to split into parts, and a delimiter (a combination of characters) that tell the function where the split should take place. In this example, we’re splitting the text in E2 using “, “ (comma and space) as the delimiter.
  • What about all the other rows? Just select the cell where you created the function (F2 in this example) and double-click on the little blue square in the bottom right-hand corner. The function will be repeated for every row with data.

Cleaning up

All that’s left is to remove the brackets from our new columns. First we have to replace the formulas in our new columns with their calculated values.

  • Select the two new columns (F2 and G2 in this example), click on the down arrow in the column header and choose ‘Copy’.
  • With the columns still selected, click on the down arrow again and choose ‘Paste special > Paste values only’.
  • Now we can get rid of the brackets. Select the first column and choose ‘Edit > Find & replace’ from the menu. Enter ( in the ‘Find’ box and click ‘Replace all’.
  • Repeat for the other column to remove all the ).

Associated lessons


maps Google Sheets