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

13 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

  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

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