what function will recombine my dataset when matlab automatically seperates my id column and row headers from the data
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Use the three-output version of xlsread(), and use the third output, "raw". It will reflect what is in the original file.
The first output, the numeric data matrix, will automatically have initial text rows removed (under the assumption that they are column headers) and will also have initial text columns removed. I think it also has trailing rows and columns that are entirely NaN removed. This is because one of the most common operations on an excel file is to work just on the numeric portion, as a numeric array. Numeric arrays cannot have strings in them.
The third output, "raw", will be a cell array, not a numeric array. And that does mean that if you want to extract the numeric subset of it, you are going to have to convert that subset to a numeric array (cell2mat()) if that is the form you want to operate on.
When you go to write out the data, you will be needing a cell array, if you want to have both numeric values and strings.
Does it look all separated when you open it up in Excel? If so, then you wrote out the workbook using strings in xlswrite() instead of cells. If the string is inside a cell, then the whole string will be in one Excel cell. If you just used xlswrite to write out strings, then it will put each character into its own cell in Excel. So tell me (1) did you write out the workbook with xlswrite(), and if so, (2) do you have one character per Excel cell?