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How to Use LEFT Function in Microsoft Excel


Microsoft Excel‘s LEFT function is an essential tool for extracting specific characters from the beginning of text strings. Study how to use the LEFT function effectively, making it simple for users at any skill level to isolate and manipulate text data according to their needs.

How to Use the LEFT Function in Microsoft Excel

 

The LEFT function in Microsoft Excel is invaluable for text manipulation; this capability is especially useful in data cleaning and analysis. Follow these steps to master the LEFT function and improve your data management skills.

  • Step 1. Select Your Target Cell

    Choose the cell where you want to display the result of the LEFT function in your sheet. This will be where your extracted characters appear.

  • Step 2. Enter the LEFT Function

    Type “=LEFT(text, num_chars)” into the selected cell. Replace “text” with the cell reference that contains the string you want to extract from, and “num_chars” with the number of characters you wish to extract.

  • Step 3. Specify the Text and Number of Characters

    step 3 specify the text and number of characters

    For example, if your text is in cell A1 and you want to extract the first 5 characters, you would enter “=LEFT(A1, 5)” into your target cell.

  • Step 4. Execute the Function

    step 4 execute the function

    Press “Enter” to execute the function on your worksheet. The cell will now display the specified number of characters from the beginning of the text string in the referenced cell.

  • Step 5. Copy the Function for Multiple Cells

    If you need to apply the same extraction to multiple rows, simply drag the fill handle from the corner of the first result cell downward to fill other cells with the LEFT function adjusted for their respective rows.

You may also find valuable insights in the following articles offering tips for Microsoft Excel:

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FAQs

What does the LEFT function do in Excel?

The LEFT function extracts a specified number of characters from the start of a text string.

How do I extract the first 5 characters from a text string in Excel?

Use the formula “=LEFT(text, 5),” replacing “text” with the cell reference containing the string.

Can the LEFT function handle numbers within text?

Yes, the LEFT function treats numbers in text strings as characters and can extract them accordingly.

What if I use a number larger than the text string length in the LEFT function?

If “num_chars” exceeds the length of the text string, the LEFT function will return the entire text string.

Is it possible to dynamically adjust the number of characters extracted by the LEFT function?

Yes, you can use another function or formula to determine the number of characters to extract dynamically, such as “=LEFT(text, LEN(text)-3).”

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