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: Getting Rid of Alphabetic Characters.

Getting Rid of Alphabetic Characters

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 30, 2014)

Bryan has a worksheet that has a lot of cells that have some alphabetic characters in them. He is looking for a way to get rid of only those alphabetic characters, no matter where they appear in the cell. For instance, if the cell contains "ABC123," Bryan wants to get rid of "ABC" and have just "123" remaining. Similarly, "A3B2C1" should become "321" and "#45P*%" should become "#45*%".

The only way to approach this problem is through the use of macros. If you want to simply strip out the characters, in place, then you can do so by selecting the cells you want to affect and then running a macro that examines each cell and deletes the offending characters. There are many ways you could do this; the following macro is a straightforward approach.

Sub CleanText1()
    Dim rngCell As Range
    Dim intChar As Integer
    Dim strCheckString As String
    Dim strCheckChar As String
    Dim intCheckChar As Integer
    Dim strClean As String

    For Each rngCell In Selection
        strCheckString = rngCell.Value
        strClean = ""

        For intChar = 1 To Len(strCheckString)
            strCheckChar = Mid(strCheckString, intChar, 1)
            intCheckChar = Asc(strCheckChar)
            Select Case intCheckChar
                Case 65 To 90      'upper case chars
                    'Do nothing
                Case 97 To 122     'lower case chars
                    'Do nothing
                Case 128 To 151    'special language chars
                    'Do nothing
                Case 153 To 154    'special language chars
                    'Do nothing
                Case 159 To 165    'special language chars
                    'Do nothing
                Case Else
                    strClean = strClean & strCheckChar
            End Select
        Next intChar
        rngCell.Value = strClean
    Next rngCell
End Sub

The nice thing about this approach to stripping out the characters is that you can easily get rid of other characters by simply modifying what is checked (and what actions are taken) in the Select Case structure.

If you don't want to modify the original cells, a good approach is to put together a user-defined function that will return a "clean" version of a string. This can be achieved by making a few modifications to the previous macro.

Function CleanText2(ByVal sRaw As String) As String
    Dim intChar As Integer
    Dim strCheckString As String
    Dim strCheckChar As String
    Dim intCheckChar As Integer
    Dim strClean As String

    Application.Volatile
    strClean = ""
    For intChar = 1 To Len(sRaw)
        strCheckChar = Mid(sRaw, intChar, 1)
        intCheckChar = Asc(strCheckChar)
        Select Case intCheckChar
            Case 65 To 90      'upper case chars
                'Do nothing
            Case 97 To 122     'lower case chars
                'Do nothing
            Case 128 To 151    'special language chars
                'Do nothing
            Case 153 To 154    'special language chars
                'Do nothing
            Case 159 To 165    'special language chars
                'Do nothing
            Case Else
                strClean = strClean & strCheckChar
        End Select
    Next intChar
    CleanText2 = strClean
End Function

In order to use the function, you could put a formula such as the following in a cell:

=CleanText2(A1)

The result is that the formula returns a "clean" version of whatever is in cell A1 without disturbing the contents of cell A1.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3219) 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: Getting Rid of Alphabetic 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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