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 18, 2018)

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))

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

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

Creating a Document Clone

If you need to work with a copy of a document rather than the original document, you can use Word's Open dialog box to ...

Discover More

Calculating the Interval between Occurrences

With a long list of items in a worksheet, you may want to determine the last time a particular item appeared in the list. ...

Discover More

End-of-Month Calculations

Don't want to use the EOMONTH function to figure out the end of a given month? Here are some other ideas for discovering ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Finding Unused Names

After months or years of naming things (such as cell ranges), you may find your workbook cluttered with a bunch of names ...

Discover More

Turning Off Automatic Capitalization

Type some information into a worksheet, and you may notice that Excel automatically capitalizes some of your information. ...

Discover More

Character Limits for Cells

Excel places limits on how much information you can enter into a cell and how much of that information it will display. ...

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 six minus 6?

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


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.