How to align columns in Notepad++

Notepad++

Here’s a short tip on how to align columns (separated by comma or other character) for text files in Notepad++ for increased readability.

When a delimited text file is opened in Notepad++ (or any other text editor), the content may look something like this:

Non aligned columns in Notepad++

Non aligned columns in Notepad++

Since the columns aren’t aligned, it is quite hard to read the data.

To make the columns aligned (e.g. like in Excel), the plugin TextFX can be used. In Notepad++, select Plugins -> Plugin Manager and check the plugin to install:

TextFX plugin download

TextFX plugin download

Restart Notepad++ when prompted.

Copy the character that is used as a column delimiter (in the example above it is “;”) and select all rows. Next, select TextFX -> TextFX Edit -> Line up multiple lines by (Clipboard Character):

TextFX Line up multiple lines by

TextFX Line up multiple lines by

Now the result should be much more readable:

Aligned columns in Notepad++

Aligned columns in Notepad++

And here is the text that I used in my example:

PK;Name;InvoiceNumber;InvoiceDate;ReferenceNumber;DueDate;Amount
12688564;Tomas Lind;123456;2016-02-17;111;2016-03-17;1000
101;Mr X;88;2016-02-07;0;2016-03-17;100

25 comments » Write a comment

  1. This isn’t working on my CSV. After about the 4th column in extra spaces appear on certain rows pushing things out of line. Re-running the line up command doesn’t fix it.

    • You probably have quotes or doublequotes in your content; it recognizes them as something that negates the delimiter

    • This happened to me too – because I didn’t read the instruction thoroughly…
      1. Copy the delimiting character
      2. Select All rows
      3. Follow the TextFX menu instructions above

      • No, that’s not it; i did read and do as described. Removing double quotes worked.

  2. I keep trying to do this but am seeing this error, “This tool requires more than one line be selected.” So, I select all and then see another warning “This tool requires exactly one character in the clipboard.” I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. 🙂 I appreciate any help, in advance.

    • This happened to me too – because I didn’t read the instruction thoroughly…
      1. Copy the delimiting character
      2. Select All rows
      3. Follow the TextFX menu instructions above

  3. It’s a great Idea BUT!!!

    In most of the work I do the separator MUST immediately follow the data which means the added spaces have to come BEFORE the data not after.

    The following is an example but you will have to paste it into Notepadd++ to undo the silly “rich text” interference.

    Original
    P 5.3170, 23.2019, 0.0020, 127, 0, 127, 3, Exterminator_Valern
    P 685.0489, 61.0334, -13.9980, 0, 127, 0, 3, Tolkar_Parlone
    P 321.0277, 93.7604, 0.0020, 0, 0, 0, 3, Tacar_Tissleplay

    What TextFX did
    P 5.3170 , 23.2019, 0.0020 , 127, 0 , 127, 3, Exterminator_Valern
    P 685.0489, 61.0334, -13.9980, 0 , 127, 0 , 3, Tolkar_Parlone
    P 321.0277, 93.7604, 0.0020 , 0 , 0 , 0 , 3, Tacar_Tissleplay

    What I needed TextFX to do
    P 5.3170, 23.2019, 0.0020, 127, 0, 127, 3, Exterminator_Valern
    P 685.0489, 61.0334, -13.9980, 0, 127, 0, 3, Tolkar_Parlone
    P 321.0277, 93.7604, 0.0020, 0, 0, 0, 3, Tacar_Tissleplay

    • Well forget the example from my previous post. The forum removed all the fixes from my example and set EVERYTHING to one space only between blocks of text.

      Either way what I’m getting at is just that you can’t put spaces after the data b4 its comma… You have to back up and add the spaces b4 the data and then move on the the next one.

  4. Is there a workaround for a two characters delimiter? For example |~. The error message states only one character should be copied.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi, as you noted the plugin requires that you use only one character. But would it be possible to replace |~ with only one character?

      • Tomas, thanks for getting back with me on this. No I can switch out any of the characters. Since I work with medical data we have a standard for delimiters. Thanks for your help, highly appreciated.

  5. 7.5.8 64 bit plugin manager does not have TetFX. Any suggestions for working with CSV to see the columns align?
    (next to uninstalling x64 and installing the 32 bit version)

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