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Harvesting Internet Raw Materials:
Text to Disk
Text to Word Processor
Tabular Data to Spreadsheet
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Tabular Data to Spreadsheet
Objective Task You may have found a web page with information about a historic event, a specific location, or a scientific phenomena.  In writing a report or preparing a study guide, you would like to include only portions of the text in your report, which is being composed with a word processor.
Note: There are two techniques for displaying tabular data on a web page, one is tables and the other is through preformatted   text.  If the text is in courier or typewriter looking font, then it is most likely a preformatted table.  If there are borders around at least some of the cells or if the font is something other than courier, then it is most likely displayed with tables.
Preformatted Tabular Data
These instructions apply to Microsoft Excel.  You can also move preformatted tabular data into Microsoft Works spreadsheet for the Macintosh.  I have not been able to get it to work on any other spreadsheet program.
Step 1 Load the web page with the tabular data into your browser.
Step 2 Using your mouse, highlight the rows of data that you would like to include in your spreadsheet file.
Step 3 d3a.gif (5135 bytes)Pull down the Edit menu of your browser and select Copy.  This will make a copy of the highlighted text, storing the data in your computers clipboard.
Step 4 Start Microsoft Excel and open a new spreadsheet file (or open an existing file in which you want to insert the web data).  Select the cell in which you want the top left corner of the data to be stored.  Pull down the Edit menu and select Paste.
Step 5 The data will appear in your spreadsheet.  As you examine the affects of pasting the data into the spreadsheet, you will learn that all of the data was entered into the column of the cell that you had selected.  If you move one cell over to the right into the next column, you will find that it is empty.
Step 6 d3b.gif (2501 bytes)To repair this, highlight the entire column that the data was pasted into.
Step 7 When the entire column of the data has been highlighted, pull down the Data menu and select Text to Columns...  This will produce a wizard or series of dialog boxes that will help you convert your data into a spreadsheet.
d3c.gif (9704 bytes)
Step 8 when the data has been preformated, the Text to Columns wizard will default to Fixed width.   This is good.  Click Next to go to the next step.
d3d.gif (10435 bytes)
Step 9 In this dialog box, the program makes asumptions about where column divisions should happen.  You can add new dividers by clicking that spot with your mouse.  You can also remove column division lines by double clicking them.  If you want to move a divider, just drag it with the mouse.
d3e.gif (11277 bytes)
Step 10 This dialog box allows you to determine the type of information  for each column.  You can designate a column, or combination of columns as General or numeric data, Text, or Date.  In the case of date, you can set the format that you want it converted to.  You can also select Do not import column to skip the column all together.  When you click Finish, you will have a spreadsheet with the data inserted into specific cells.
Step 11 Now you can work with the data with the functions available through the spreadsheet.  If you want your students to manipulate the data with Microsoft Works or ClarisWorks, or some other spreadsheet program, you can save it as a tab-delimited file with Excel, and then open it into any of the other programs.  Here is a scatter graph produced with the earthquake data from above.

d3f.gif (6437 bytes)

Tables Formatted Tabular Data
These instructions apply to Microsoft Excel. 
Step 1 Tabular data that has been formatted with table tags must be handled differently from preformated data.  Rather than copying and pasting the data, we must save the entire page.  Pull down the File men and select Save as...

d3g.gif (6048 bytes)

A standard file save dialog box will appear.  Find a logical target location for the saved file, be sure that the Save as type section is stet for text, and save the file.

Step 2 Now we have to remove all of the extraneous information, leaving only the data.  To do this, load the text file into a text processor, such as WordPad or NotePad.  Then carefully delete out all of the information except for the data itself.  Then resave the file, with ".txt" as the extension.

d3h.gif (8795 bytes)

Step 3 Start Microsoft Excel, and open your saved file.  It will automatically open up into the Text to columns... wizard.  From here, follow the directions beginning with Step 8 above.

v: 919-571-3292
f: 919-571-2760

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Copyright 1998 by David Warlick
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