# Returning The Left-Most Characters In Excel

by Jacky Chou
Updated on

## Key Takeaway:

• The LEFT function in Excel is a useful tool to return the left-most characters of a cell or string.
• By including a number argument in the LEFT function, you can specify the amount of left-most characters to return.
• The combination of LEFT and FIND functions allows you to return the left-most characters of a string before or after a specific character.

Are you struggling to return the left-most characters from a cell in Excel? This guide provides an easy solution to extract, trim and separate text from cells. Gain peace of mind knowing that you can easily extract the left-most characters from any cell with a few simple steps.

## Basics of LEFT function in Excel

The LEFT function in Excel helps in returning the left-most characters from a given cell. By using this function, the user can easily extract a specific number of characters from the left-hand side. This function is particularly useful when the user wants to manipulate text data or extract specific words or phrases from a cell.

To use the LEFT function in Excel, the user needs to specify the cell from which to extract the characters, along with the number of characters to extract. The function can be easily modified to extract a variable number of characters based on specific criteria such as the presence of a specific character or the position of a delimiter.

A unique detail about the LEFT function is its ability to work seamlessly with other Excel functions such as CONCATENATE, MID and FIND. This enables users to create complex formulas to extract and manipulate data in a variety of ways. Moreover, the LEFT function can also be used with conditional formatting to highlight cells that contain specific words or phrases.

One suggestion for using the LEFT function efficiently is to always double-check the extraction criteria to ensure that the correct number of characters is being returned. Additionally, users can combine the LEFT function with other Excel functions to manipulate data at scale, such as when working with large datasets.

Image credits: chouprojects.com by Joel Duncun

## Returning a specific number of left-most characters with LEFT function

In Excel, we can use the LEFT function to return a specific number of characters from the left side of a cell’s value. This is useful when we only need a portion of a longer string. By specifying the number of characters we want to return, we can quickly extract the desired information without having to manually edit the cell’s contents.

To use the LEFT function to return a specific number of left-most characters in Excel, follow these 3 steps:

1. Select the cell where you want to display the left-most characters.
2. Type “=LEFT(” into the formula bar.
3. Select the cell containing the original string, add a comma, and then specify the number of characters you want to return. Finish the formula by typing “)” and pressing Enter.

By following these steps, you can quickly and easily extract the desired information from a cell in Excel. It is important to note that the LEFT function only works with text strings. If the cell contains a numeric value, you will need to convert it to text before using the LEFT function.

One unique detail to keep in mind when using the LEFT function is that it returns a fixed number of characters from the left side of the cell’s value. If the cell contains a variable length string, the returned characters may not always be the same.

Pro Tip: To ensure consistent results when using the LEFT function on cells with variable length strings, consider using the LEN function to determine the length of the string before specifying the number of characters to return.

Image credits: chouprojects.com by Joel Duncun

## Returning left-most characters of a string before a specific character with LEFT function and FIND function

Finding left-most characters in Excel before a specific character can be done efficiently using the LEFT and FIND functions. Here’s a step-by-step guide to assist in this task:

1. Select the cell where you want the resulting text to be displayed.
2. Type in the formula: `=LEFT(cell number,FIND(specified character,cell number)-1)`.
3. Replace ‘cell number’ with the reference to the cell containing the text you wish to extract from.
4. Replace ‘specified character’ with the symbol, letter, or number that comes after the text you wish to extract.
5. Press ‘Enter’ and the formula will return the left-most characters before the specified character.

It is worth noting that this method is case sensitive and returns an error if the specified character is not found in the text.

When using this method, ensure the specified character is unique to the location you wish to extract from. If not, it may extract a portion of the text you didn’t intend to.

RETURNING THE SMALLEST NON-ZERO VALUE IN EXCEL is another instance where Excel can quickly do this calculation. Excel’s MIN function can be used with an IF function nested within to return the smallest non-zero value in a range of data.

Historically, Excel has been an essential tool for finance and accounting professionals but has grown to be widely used in various industries, including marketing, project management, and education. The program has revolutionized work processes, increasing work efficiency and accuracy.

Image credits: chouprojects.com by Joel Woodhock

## Returning left-most characters of a string after a specific character with MID function and FIND function

Excel’s MID and FIND functions can be used to return the left-most characters of a string after a specific character. This allows users to extract a subset of data from larger strings quickly and efficiently.

To return the left-most characters of a string after a specific character with MID function and FIND function, follow these 3 steps:

1. Use the FIND function to locate the specific character in the original string.
2. Add 1 to the result of the FIND function to exclude the specific character from the extracted substring.
3. Use the MID function to extract the substring from the left-most character to the desired length.

For example, if we want to extract the domain name from an email address, we can use these functions to return everything to the right of the “@” symbol.

It’s worth noting that the length of the extracted substring can also be determined dynamically by subtracting the position of the specific character from the length of the original string.

A true fact about returning values in Excel is that the Smallest Non-Zero Value can be found using the MIN function with the criteria “>0”.

Image credits: chouprojects.com by James Arnold

## Returning a specific number of characters after a specific character with MID function and FIND function

Excel users can use the MID and FIND functions to return a specific number of characters after a specific character. By using these functions, users can extract useful information from a dataset without going through the entire list.

Here is a 5-step guide to using MID and FIND functions to extract the data you need:

1. Select the cell in which you want to display the extracted data.
2. Use the FIND function to locate the position of the specific character after which you want to extract the data.
3. Use the MID function to extract the data based on the position found in step 2 and the number of characters you want to extract.
4. Combine the FIND and MID functions with the ampersand (&) symbol to create a single formula.
5. Press enter to execute the formula and display the extracted data in the selected cell.

It’s important to note that the number of characters to extract should be determined based on the type of data you need. For instance, if you only need the first name of every person in a list, you would only extract a certain number of characters before the first space.

One unique detail to keep in mind is that the MID and FIND functions can also be nested within other functions to extract data from more complex datasets.

Don’t miss out on the benefits of using the MID and FIND functions to extract specific data in Excel. By learning this simple technique, you can greatly enhance your data analysis skills and save time in the process.

Image credits: chouprojects.com by Adam Jones

## Five Facts About Returning the Left-most Characters in Excel:

• ✅ The LEFT function in Excel allows you to extract a specified number of characters from the beginning of a text string. (Source: Microsoft)
• ✅ You can use LEFT with other Excel functions, such as FIND and LEN, to extract specific data from a string. (Source: Exceljet)
• ✅ LEFT is a useful tool for data cleaning and manipulation in Excel. (Source: DataCamp)
• ✅ Excel also offers the RIGHT function, which extracts characters from the end of a text string. (Source: Spreadsheeto)
• ✅ LEFT and RIGHT can be combined with other functions, such as CONCATENATE, to reassemble strings in a desired format. (Source: Excel Easy)

## FAQs about Returning The Left-Most Characters In Excel

### What is the function for returning the left-most characters in Excel?

The function for returning the left-most characters in Excel is simply =LEFT(cell, number_of_characters).

### What does the LEFT function do in Excel?

The LEFT function in Excel returns a specific number of characters from the left side of a given text string.

### How do I use the LEFT function to return the first character in Excel?

To use the LEFT function to return the first character in Excel, simply use formula =LEFT(cell, 1).

### What is the maximum number of characters the LEFT function can return in Excel?

The maximum number of characters the LEFT function can return in Excel is 255.

### Can I combine the LEFT function with other functions in Excel?

Yes, the LEFT function can be combined with other functions in Excel to manipulate data. For example, you can use the LEFT function to extract the first letter of a name and then use a formula like =PROPER(LEFT(cell, 1))&RIGHT(cell,LEN(cell)-1) to capitalize it and add the rest of the name.

### How do I use the LEFT function to return the left-most characters of a cell until a specific character in Excel?

To use the LEFT function to return the left-most characters of a cell until a specific character in Excel, you can use the FIND function in conjunction with the LEFT function. For example, =LEFT(cell,FIND(“-“,cell)-1) will return all characters to the left of the first dash (-) in the cell.

Auther name

Jacky Chou is an electrical engineer turned marketer. He is the founder of IndexsyFar & AwayLaurel & Wolf, a couple of FBA businesses, and about 40 affiliate sites. He is a proud native of Vancouver, BC, who has been featured on Entrepreneur.comForbesOberlo, and GoDaddy.