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: Finding the First Non-Digit in a Text Value.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 26, 2016)
Tony has a bunch of data in a worksheet that consists of digits and other characters. For instance, he might have a cell that contains "1234567Blue." Tony wants to be able to figure out the character position at which the first non-digit character occurs. In the example of the text "1234567Blue" Tony wants some way to figure out that the first non-digit character is at position 8.
There are two primary ways to get the value you want. The first is to use an array formula to calculate the position. The following array formula (entered by using Ctrl+Shift+Enter) will work in the majority of cases:
The only instances where this array formula won't work is if cell A1 is either empty or contains a strictly numeric value. If your list may contain this type of data (or no data at all), then you should consider using a slightly longer array formula:
=IF(LEN(A1)=0,0,MIN(IF(1*ISNUMBER(1*MID(A1,ROW(INDIRECT("A1:A"& LEN(A1))),1))=0,ROW(INDIRECT("A1:A"&LEN(A1))),LEN(A1)+1)))* (ISNUMBER(A1)=FALSE)
Remember that that is a single array formula, entered by using Ctrl+Shift+Enter. It will properly handle instances where A1 contains no non-digit characters (as in a blank cell or a value such as "123").
Of course, the other way you can handle finding out the position of the first non-digit character is to create a user-defined function. There are many different ways that such a macro can be implemented. One of the easiest ways to implement the macro is to simply step through each character in whatever is passed to the macro. When a character is found that is outside the ASCII code range for digits (48 to 57), then you know you've found the first position. The following macro shows a way to do this type of technique:
Function FirstNonDigit(str As String) Dim iChar As Integer Dim iPos As Integer Dim J As Integer Application.Volatile iPos = 0 For J = 1 To Len(str) iChar = Asc(Mid(str, J, 1)) If iChar <= 47 Or iChar >= 58 Then iPos = J Exit For End If Next J FirstNonDigit = iPos End Function
To use the function, simply use a formula such as this in your worksheet:
If the cell you reference is empty or if it only contains digits, then the function returns a 0 value.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3364) 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: Finding the First Non-Digit in a Text Value.
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!
It is easy to use Excel functions to sum values based on criteria you establish, unless those criteria involve the formatting ...Discover More
Do you see some small rectangular boxes appearing in your formula results? It could be because Excel is substituting that box ...Discover More
Want to add an ordinal suffix to a number, as in 2nd, 3rd, or 4th? Excel doesn't provide a way to do it automatically, but ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
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.