Dawn Bjork Buzbee
The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Certified Microsoft Office 2010 Specialist (MOS 2010) Master Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office 2007 Specialist (MOS 2007) Master Instructor
Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office Expert
Certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE)
WOSB (Women-Owned Small Business) Certified
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In addition to numbers and formulas, key data in Microsoft Excel also
includes text entries. Learn more about how you can stop retyping and
save time by using functions to work with text in Excel.
1. Thinking "Outside of the Cell"
Too often, I see Excel users who are retyping or trying to manipulate
data within the same cell in order to get the correct format and
display. To paraphrase an overused phrase, when you want to transform
text in Excel, you will often need to think "outside of the cell," that
is, add extra working columns to your worksheet to store the formulas to
give you the results you need. If you already have some form of the
data, don't retype...just automatically recreate with some of the
following text functions.
2. Changing Text Case
What if you have text in cell A1 (or all of column A) that has a
mismatch of upper- and lower-case characters such as chris Edwards
and you want all entries to be consistent?
In cell B1, type: =PROPER(A1) to change the data to initial
caps: Chris Edwards
=UPPER(A1) to change to all upper case: CHRIS EDWARDS
=LOWER(A1) to change to all lower case: chris edwards
3. Removing Extra Spaces
When working with data originating from other sources, it is common
for the data to have leading or trailing spaces which will often affect
the success of searches and sorting. To display a text entry without any
extra spaces at the beginning or end, use the TRIM function as in
=TRIM(A1). This function will not remove spaces between words in a
text entry. You can also nest other functions inside of a TRIM function
such as: =TRIM(PROPER(A1)).
4. Extracting Only What You Want
Another text entry problem is when you only want to work with a
portion of a data entry. What do you do when you to sort or search on
characters at the beginning, middle, or end of a text entry? Let's look
at the simple example of an accounting code such as MA8-23456-T445 in
To extract a portion of the text entry, in cell B1 type:
=LEFT(A1,3) for the result "MA8" of the first 3 characters from the
=RIGHT(A1,4) for the result "T445" of the last 4 characters
from the right
=MID(A1,5,5) to extract the result "23456" from the middle
starting at character position 5 for 5 characters
5. Count the Characters in a Cell
To count the length or number of characters in the cell, use the LEN
function. For example, to determine the length of an entry in cell A1,
6. Pulling Text Apart By Bringing Functions Together
Sometimes Excel data includes names, addresses or other entries you
might want to split up for easier sorting and searching. To split up a
text entry such as "Chris Edwards" in cell A1, use a combination of
functions including FIND which is used to locate specific characters
such as a space or comma:
=LEFT(A1,FIND(" ",A1)-1) the result is "Chris"-all of the
characters to the left of the space
=RIGHT(A1,LEN(A1)-FIND(" ",A1)) the result is "Edwards"-all of
the characters after the space
Try these additional tips and tricks to save time and to avoid
retyping text in Microsoft Excel.
>>Microsoft Excel: 5 Tips to Work with Text
© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®
Dawn Bjork Buzbee
is The Software Pro®
and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office
Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist
(MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart
and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software
speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.
This article and
more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with
copyright and attribution.
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To change a single entry to a text format, type an apostrophe (') in front of
|Insert the TRIM()
function around formulas to remove extra spaces that might surround
a text entry