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: Deleting Everything Up to a Character Sequence.

Deleting Everything Up to a Character Sequence

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 28, 2013)

Steven has a worksheet that has lots of text in it. In the cells in column A he wants to delete everything that may occur before a given sequence of characters, such as everything before =XX=. There may be multiple instances of these characters in each cell, but Steven only wants to delete everything before the first occurrence.

One way to do this is to use a formula. For instance, the following formula will evaluate whatever is in cell A1 and simply return everything up to the =XX= characters. If the characters are not found in the cell, then the entire cell is returned:

=RIGHT(A1,IF(ISERROR(FIND("=XX=",A1,1)),
LEN(A1),LEN(A1)-FIND("=XX=",A1,1)+1))

If you want, instead, to not return the first occurrence of =XX=, all you need to do is change the +1 near the end of the formula to -3.

If you prefer a macro-based solution you could use a routine like the following. It examines all the cells that are currently selected and then deletes everything before the =XX= sequence.

Sub DeleteToSequence()
    Dim rCell As Range
    Dim sSeq As String
    Dim x As Long

    sSeq = "=XX="
    For Each rCell In Selection
        x = InStr(rCell.Value, sSeq)
        If x > 0 Then
            rCell.Value = Mid(rCell, x)
        End If
    Next

    Set rCell = Nothing
End Sub

You should be aware that this macro can cause some errors, particularly when what you are searching for begins with an equal sign (as in =XX=). When a string beginning with an equal sign is stuffed back into the cell, you'll get a #NAME? error because Excel tries to parse the cell as if it contains a formula.

If you want to delete everything up through the character sequence, use this line in the middle of the routine:

rCell.Value = Mid(rCell, x + Len(sSeq))

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7696) 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: Deleting Everything Up to a Character Sequence.

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

Determining the Length of a Text File

When processing plain text files in a macro, it is often helpful to know how much data the file contains. The normal way to ...

Discover More

Selecting a Window

When you get a lot of windows open on your screen, it can sometimes be difficult to locate the one with which you need to ...

Discover More

Deleting Caption Labels

Define a label to be used in a caption, and you may later want to delete that label. Here's how you can easily make the ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

MORE EXCELTIPS (MENU)

Concatenating Ranges of Cells

Putting the contents of two cells together is easy. Putting together the contents of lots of cells is more involved, as ...

Discover More

Disabling Dragging and Dropping

Excel allows you to easily paste information into a worksheet, including through simply dragging and dropping the ...

Discover More

Changing Months in a Workbook

When you copy a worksheet and then need to make changes to information in that worksheet (such as changing month names), the ...

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:

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. 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 seven minus 6?

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


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.

Links and Sharing
Share