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Shortening ZIP Codes

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Shortening ZIP Codes.

In the United States, ZIP Codes come in two formats: five-digit and nine-digit. (Actually, the five-digit ZIP Code is a subset of the nine-digit ZIP Code.) If you are an Excel worksheet that contains address information, you may want to convert nine-digit ZIP Codes to their five-digit equivalent.

This is a rather easy task to accomplish, since all you need to do is strip everything after the fifth digit in the ZIP Code. Follow these steps:

  1. Insert a new column, just to the right of the existing ZIP Code column.
  2. Assuming the ZIP Codes are in column G and you added a new column H, you can enter the following in cell H3:
     =Left(G3, 5)
  1. Copy this formula into all the appropriate cells of column H.
  2. Select the entire column H.
  3. Press Ctrl+C. Excel copies the entire column to the Clipboard.
  4. Display the Paste Special dialog box by choosing Paste Special from the Edit menu. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Paste Special dialog box.

  6. Make sure the Values radio button is selected.
  7. Click on OK. Column H has now been transformed from formulas into the formula results.
  8. Delete column G.

If you have an empty column to the right of your ZIP Codes, you can also use Excel's Text to Columns feature:

  1. Select all the cells that contain your ZIP Codes.
  2. From the Data menu, choose Text to Columns. (See Figure 2.)
  3. Figure 2. The Convert Text to Columns Wizard.

  4. Make sure the Delimited option is selected, then click on Next.
  5. Select the Other check box, place a single dash in the box just to the right of Other, then click on Next.
  6. In the Column Data Format area, select Text. (You want your ZIP Codes to be formatted as text so that you don't lose any leading zeros.)
  7. Click on Finish.

At this point you have the first five digits of the ZIP Code in the original column, and the last four digits (if any) in the previously empty column to the right. You can delete the column containing the four digits, if desired.

If you need to truncate ZIP Codes quite often, you may be more interested in a macro-based approach. The following macro will do the trick:

Sub ZIPShorter()
    For Each cell In Selection
        cell.Value = Left(cell.Value, 5)
End Sub

All you need to do is select the cells containing the ZIP Codes, and then run the macro.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2654) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Shortening ZIP Codes.

Related Tips:

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