removing whitespace between columns in a .txt data file

  • Hi everyone,

    Please I need a help. I have a data file saved in notepad but it has too much space between columns? Is there a way of removing these spaces. This is how my original data looks:

    15 20 33 boy white
    20 11 28 girl yellow

    I want to remove the whitespace between the column so it will look like this:

    15 20 33 boy white
    20 11 28 girl yellow

    Any suggestion will be greatly appreciated.


  • @Too-Glad

    To my eyes it appears you are done before you start: BEFORE = AFTER


  • No I’m not. Sadly the original file in my example is not showing well when I type. Basically, I want to remove the whitespace. The spaces between columns are too wide, so I want to reduce the space. Please ignore my initial post because the original data format and the desired format seems to be same. In fact, the original data format has too much space in between and the desired format is the one I posted in my initial post. Thanks

  • @Scott-Sumner

    The BEFORE has too much space in between as in example below. The ‘>>>>’ is just showing the whitespace

    15>>>> 20>>>> 33>>>> boy>>>> white
    20>>>> 11>>>> 28>>>> girl>>>> yellow

    The desired format should be like this:
    15 20 33 boy white
    20 11 28 girl yellow


  • @Too-Glad

    So, it’s like this:

    15    20    33    boy    white
    20    11    28    girl    yellow

    So it sure seems like this would solve your problem:

    Find what zone: \h+
    Replace with zone: put a single space character here
    Search mode: Regular expression
    Action: Press Replace or Replace All as desired

  • @To-Glad, @Scott-Sumner gave you a working method, and the basic strategy.

    However if you wish to keep the columns aligned and you have only spaces (not tabs) or predicatable tabbing you can (sometimes) ‘work backwards’ to remove a fixed number of spaces “before a word character”.

    Maybe this:

    Find what: \s{3}<
    Replace with (NOTHING LEAVE EMPTY):

    You might wish to mark a selection if other text is in the file. And you could use this Find also:
    Find what: \s{3}\b

    \s = space (or \h for horizontal whitespace but that can present complications with tabs)
    {3} = EXACTLY 3 (you want a fix amount if you are going to keep the columns, but change to any number you know will work (probably leaving at least enough for the longest item in the ‘previous column’.

    < = require the match at the BEGINNING of a work
    \b = or on a word boundary, which in the case of the space pre-match is always going to be the beginning of a work and this regex patter is found in far more regex engines than < (NotePad++ has particularly good regexes.)

    You MAY need to work the “biggest” gaps first if you have varying amounts of white space, perhaps 6 extra characters for one column and 20 another.

    You many also have some challenges if the longest word in one column is very long, while there is a big gap in other columns.

    If it is bad enough just use column selection and cut them out manually – Shift-Alt while dragging the mouse or using the arrow keys will mark a column which you can then delete (or replace by typing).

  • @Scott-Sumner

    Thank you so much Scott. That works for me, sorted.


  • @Herb-Martin

    Many thanks Herb-Martin for your suggestion. Much appreciated.

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