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: Converting to ASCII Text.

Converting to ASCII Text

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 11, 2016)

Brenda has a lot of information that has been imported or pasted into a worksheet. Sometimes the text in the worksheet will contain "foreign" and strange characters. She wonders if there is a way to easily convert the data so that it contains no non-ASCII characters and, perhaps, some foreign characters are converted to regular ASCII values (such as converting accented letters to non-accented letters).

There are a couple of things you can try. First, you can use the CLEAN worksheet function to get rid of non-printable characters. Just use the function in this manner:

=CLEAN(A1)

The result is "cleaned" text, without the non-printables. If you want to replace foreign characters with regular ASCII characters, that will need to be done with a macro. Here's an example of a relatively straightforward approach:

Sub StripAccent()
    Dim sAcc As String
    Dim sReg As String
    Dim sA As String
    Dim sR As String
    Dim i As Integer

    sAcc = ""
    sReg = "SZszYAAAAAACEEEEIIIIDNOOOOOUUUUYaaaaaaceeeeiiiidnooooouuuuyy"

    For i = 1 To Len(sAcc)
        sA = Mid(sAcc, i, 1)
        sR = Mid(sReg, i, 1)
        Selection.Replace What:=sA, Replacement:=sR, _
          LookAt:=xlPart, MatchCase:=True
    Next
End Sub

The macro steps through the characters in the sAcc variable and, one at a time, uses Find and Replace to replace them with the corresponding character in the sReg variable. You can adjust the contents of sAcc and sReg to reflect your conversion needs; the key is to make sure that they are both the same length.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11492) 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: Converting to ASCII Text.

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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