**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: Inserting Dashes between Letters and Numbers.

Let's say you have a worksheet with lots of product codes in column A. These codes are in the format A4, B12, AD4, etc. Due to a change in the way your company operates, you are directed to change all the product codes so they contain a dash between the letters and the numbers.

There are several ways you can perform this task. If the structure of your product codes is consistent, then inserting the dashes is a snap. For instance, if there will always be a single letter followed by numbers, then you could use a formula such as this:

=LEFT(A1,1) & "-" & RIGHT(A1,LEN(A1)-1)

Chances are good that your data won't be structured, meaning you could have one or two letters followed by up to three digits. Thus, both A4 and QD284 would both be valid product codes. In this case, a solution formula takes a bit more creativity.

One way to handle it is with an array formula. Consider the following formula:

=REPLACE(A1,MATCH(FALSE,ISERROR(1*MID(A1,ROW(INDIRECT("1:100")),1)),0),0,"-")

If values are in A1-A10, you can put this formula into B1, and then copy it down the column. Since it is an array formula, it must be entered by pressing **Ctrl+Shift+Enter**. The formula finds the location of the first number in the cell and inserts a dash before it.

Assume, for the sake of example, that cell A1 contains BR27. The innermost part of the formula, INDIRECT("1:100"), converts the text 1:100 to a range. This is used so that inserting or deleting rows does not affect the formula. The next part of the formula, ROW(INDIRECT("1:100")), essentially creates an array of the values 1-100: 1,2,3,...,99,100. This is used to act on each character in the cell.

The next part, MID(A1,ROW(INDIRECT("1:100")),1), refers to each individual character in the string. This results in the array: "B", "R", "2", and "7". Multiplying the array by 1 (the next part of the formula) results in each of the individual characters being converted to a number. If the character is not a number, this conversion yields an error. In the case of the string being converted (BR27), this results in: #VALUE, #VALUE, 2, and 7.

The next step is to apply the ISERROR function to the results of the multiplication. This converts the errors to TRUE and the non-errors to FALSE, yielding TRUE, TRUE, FALSE, and FALSE. The MATCH function looks in the array of TRUE and FALSE values for an exact match of FALSE. In this example, the MATCH function returns the number 3, since the first FALSE value is in the third position of the array. At this point, we essentially know the location of the first number in the cell.

The final function is REPLACE, which is used to actually insert the dash into the source string, beginning at the third character.

As you can tell, the formula to perform the transformation can be a bit daunting to decipher. For those so inclined, it may be easier to just create a user-defined function. The following macro is an example of one that will return a string with the dash in the proper place:

Function DashIn(myText As String) Dim i As Integer Dim myCharCode As Integer Dim myLength As Integer Application.Volatile myLength = Len(myText) For i = 1 To myLength myCharCode = Asc(Mid(myText, i, 1)) If myCharCode >= 48 And myCharCode <= 57 Then Exit For End If Next i If i = 1 Or i > myLength Then DashIn = myText Else DashIn = Left(myText, i - 1) & "-" _ & Mid(myText, i, myLength - 1) End If End Function

The macro examines each character in the original string, and when it finds the first numeric character, it inserts a dash at that point. You would use the function in this way:

=DashIn(A1)

*ExcelTips* is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training.
This tip (2613) 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: **Inserting Dashes between Letters and Numbers**.

**Excel Smarts for Beginners!** Featuring the friendly and trusted *For Dummies* style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out *Excel 2013 For Dummies* today!

Importing data into Excel that was generated in other programs can have some interesting side effects. For instance, you may ...

Discover MoreHave you ever typed something in Excel, only to have it replace whatever is to the right of the insertion point? That's known ...

Discover MoreThere are a variety of ways to pick a range of cells in Excel. Here are three of them you'll find useful.

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

2015-10-04 11:50:58

Willy Vanhaelen

This is a very clever solution!

You can even make it a 'one liner' by removing 'Application.Volatile' which isn't really necessary.

2015-10-03 11:16:28

Rick Rothstein

<pre>

Function DashIn(myText As String)

Application.Volatile

DashIn = Application.Replace(myText, InStr(myText, Val(StrReverse(myText)) Mod 10), 0, "-")

End Function

</pre>

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.

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

Copyright © 2017 Sharon Parq Associates, Inc.

## Comments