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: Using a Formula to Replace Spaces with Dashes.

Using a Formula to Replace Spaces with Dashes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 25, 2016)

Viv has a worksheet that contains lots of product descriptions. She needs a way to replace all the spaces between words with dashes. She knows she could use find and replace, but would prefer to use a formula to do the replacements.

Perhaps the easiest way to accomplish this task, using a formula, is to rely on the SUBSTITUTE function. At its most simple, SUBSTITUTE is used to replace one character in a text string with a different character. Thus, assuming your original product description is in cell A1, you could use the following:

=SUBSTITUTE(A1," ","-")

This formula locates every space in the text and replaces them with dashes. If you are concerned that there may be leading or trailing spaces in cell A1, then you can expand the formula using the TRIM function:

=SUBSTITUTE(TRIM(A1)," ","-")

Either of the formulas presented so far does great at replacing regular spaces within text. Understand, however, that if you are importing your original text from a program other than Excel, the text may contain characters that look like regular spaces, but aren't really. In that case, the above approaches won't work and you'll need to do some detective work to figure out exactly what the faux spaces really are so you can replace them.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12487) 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: Using a Formula to Replace Spaces with Dashes.

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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