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: Using a Numeric Portion of a Cell in a Formula.

Using a Numeric Portion of a Cell in a Formula

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 29, 2015)

2

Rita described a problem where she is provided information, in an Excel worksheet, that combines both numbers and alphabetic characters in a cell. In particular, a cell may contain "3.5 V", which means that 3.5 hours of vacation time was taken. (The character at the end of the cell could change, depending on the type of hours the entry represented.) Rita wondered if it was possible to still use the data in a formula in some way.

Yes, it is possible, and there are several ways to approach the issue. The easiest way (and cleanest) would be to simply move the alphabetic characters to their own column. Assuming that the entries will always consist of a number, followed by a space, followed by the characters, you can do the "splitting" this way:

  1. Make sure there is a blank column to the right of the entries.
  2. Select the entries.
  3. Choose Text to Columns from the Data menu. Excel displays the first step of the Convert Text to Columns Wizard. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The first step of the Convert Text to Columns Wizard.

  5. The Delimited radio button should be selected. Click Next. Excel displays the second step of the wizard.
  6. Make sure the Space check box is selected, then click Next. Excel displays the third step of the wizard.
  7. Click Finish.

Word splits the entries into two columns, with the numbers in the leftmost column and the alphabetic characters in the right. You can then any regular math functions on the numeric values that you desire.

If it is not feasible to separate the data into columns (perhaps your company doesn't allow such a division, or it may cause problems with those later using the worksheet), then you can approach the problem in a couple of other ways.

First, you could use the following formula on individual cells:

=VALUE(LEFT(A3,LEN(A3)-2))

The LEFT function is used to strip off the two rightmost characters (the space and the letter) of whatever is in cell A3, and then the VALUE function converts the result to a number. You can then use this result as you would any other numeric value.

If you want to simply sum the column containing your entries, you could use an array formula. Enter the following in a cell:

=SUM(VALUE(LEFT(A3:A21,LEN(A3:A21)-2)))

Make sure you actually enter the formula by pressing Shift+Ctrl+Enter. Because this is an array formula, the LEFT and VALUE functions are applied to each cell in the range A3:A21 individually, and then summed using the SUM function.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3185) 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: Using a Numeric Portion of a Cell in a Formula.

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

Checking for Matching Parentheses

There are lots of little "gottchas" that can make the difference between a finished document and a polished document. One ...

Discover More

Misbehaving Rulers

When upgrading from Word 2000 to 2002, many people have a problem with the Ruler function. This tip explains how to fix the ...

Discover More

Creating One-time Labels

Need to create a set of labels for a specific purpose? The easiest way is to let Word create a set of blank labels and then ...

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Counting Only Money Winners

If a series of cells contain the amount of money won by individuals, you may want to count the number of individuals who ...

Discover More

Automatically Numbering Rows

Adding row numbers to a column of your worksheet is easy; you just need to use a formula to do it. Here's a quick look at a ...

Discover More

Determining a Name for a Week Number

You could use Excel to collect data that is useful in your business. For instance, you might use it to collect information ...

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

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is two more than 4?

2016-02-03 16:25:33

Tom Angelillo

Thanks! IT worked like a charm using VALUE


2015-08-30 23:42:09

Pete Menhennet

You can shorten the formula even more to

{=SUM(--LEFT(A3:A21,LEN(A3:A21)-2))}


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.

Newest Tips
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.