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: Cleaning Text.

Cleaning Text

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 13, 2016)

Excel includes an interesting worksheet function whose duty it is to make sure that your text is "clean." By this, Excel means that your text contains only printable characters. Thus, the function removes certain non-printable characters and control codes from your text. The syntax is rather simple, as follows:


All you need to do is include the text, or a reference to a cell that contains text. In doing some testing, it appears that the function removes anything with an ANSI value of 1 through 31, as well as the values 129, 141, 143, 144, and 157.

So why would you use the CLEAN function? If you import information from some mainframe or on-line services, the non-printable codes could be interspersed in the information you receive. This can cause problems printing or viewing the information correctly. CLEAN can help rectify those problems.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2454) 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: Cleaning Text.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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