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: Returning the Left-most Characters.

Returning the Left-most Characters

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 7, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Sometimes you may need to create a worksheet formula that examines the left-most characters in a different cell. To allow for this need, Excel provides the LEFT worksheet function. You use it by specifying the cell or value to use, along with the number of character to return. For instance, the following formula returns the three left-most characters in cell A7:

=LEFT(A7,3)

If the value in A7 is not text, then LEFT still treats it as if it is. Thus, if A7 contains 12345, then the above formula returns the text value 123.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2488) 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: Returning the Left-most Characters.

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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