Load Data to Power Pivot from Text Files

By Michael Alexander

The text file is a type of flat file used to distribute data. This type of file is commonly output from legacy systems and websites. Excel has always been able to consume text files. With Power Pivot, you can go further and integrate them with other data sources.

Open the Power Pivot window and click the From Other Sources command button on the Home tab. This opens the Table Import Wizard dialog box shown. Select the Text File option and then click the Next button.

Open the Table Import Wizard and select Excel File.

The Table Import Wizard asks for all the information it needs to connect to the target text file.

Provide the basic information needed to connect to the target text file.

On this screen, you provide the following information:

  • Friendly Connection Name: The Friendly Connection Name field allows you to specify your own name for the external source. You typically enter a name that is descriptive and easy to read.
  • File Path: Enter the full path of your target text file. You can use the Browse button to search for and select the file you want to pull from.
  • Column Separator: Select the character used to separate the columns in the text file. Before you can do this, you need to know how the columns in your text file are delimited. For instance, a comma-delimited file will have commas separating its columns. A tab-delimited file will have tabs separating the columns. The drop-down list in the Table Import Wizard includes choices for the more common delimiters: Tab, Comma, Semicolon, Space, Colon, and Vertical bar.
  • Use First Row as Column Headers: If your text file contains header rows, be sure to select the check box next to Use First Row as a Column Headers. This ensures that the column headers are recognized as headers when imported.

Notice that you see an immediate preview of the data in the text file. Here, you can filter out any unwanted columns by simply removing the check mark next to the column names. You can also use the drop-down arrows next to each column to apply any record filters.

Clicking the Finish button immediately starts the import process. Upon completion, the data from your text file will be part of the Power Pivot data model. As always, be sure to review and create relationships to any other tables you’ve loaded into Power Pivot.

Anyone who’s worked with text files in Excel knows that they’re notorious for importing numbers that look like numbers, but are really coded as text. In standard Excel, you use Text to Columns to fix these kinds of issues. Well, this can be a problem in Power Pivot, too.

When importing text files, take the extra step of verifying that all columns have been imported with the correct data formatting. You can use the formatting tools found on the Power Pivot window’s Home tab to format any column in the data model.