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

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 15, 2014)

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Using Different Shapes in WordArt

You can apply different shapes in WordArt to create different effects.

Discover More

Changing from Pirated to Permitted Software

When you install Microsoft Office, you are required to enter a product key that unlocks the software for your use. This ...

Discover More

Detecting the Beginning of a Sentence in a Macro

Macros can make life easier, as they provide a fast and efficient way of processing text in a document. Such is the case if ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

MORE EXCELTIPS (MENU)

Cleaning Text

You can use the CLEAN worksheet function to remove any non-printable characters from a cell. This can come in handy when you ...

Discover More

Using the CONCATENATE Worksheet Function

The process of combining string (text) values to make a new string is called concatenation. Excel provides the CONCATENATE ...

Discover More

Specifying Proper Case

If you need to change the case of letters in a cell, one of the functions you can use is the PROPER function. This tip ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments for this tip:

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)

This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.

Links and Sharing
Share