Remove First Character(s) From Left – Excel & Google Sheets

This tutorial will demonstrate how to remove the first character(s) from the left from a string of text in Excel and Google Sheets.

remove first chars from left Main Function

REPLACE Function

To remove characters from the left of a cell, we can use the REPLACE function to replace the first characters with an empty string.

remove first chars from left 01

MID Function

We can also remove characters from the left of a cell by using the MID Function to return all the characters to the right of a specific position in a cell, for example, to the right of a space.  We would use the SEARCH Function to find the space and then the MID Function to return the characters to the right of that space.

remove first chars from left 04

We will walkthrough this below.

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SEARCH Function – Find the Space in a Cell

First, we used the SEARCH Function to find the position of the space between the first and last names.

Search

We then add one onto the value returned by this formula to get the starting position of the last name.

Search Plus One

MID Function (Last Name)

Next we use the MID Function to return all the characters after the space plus 1 (the last name)

MID

Combining these 2 functions gives us the original formula for the last name.

remove first chars from left 04

RIGHT FUNCTION

We can also remove characters from the left of a cell by using the RIGHT Function to return a certain number of characters from the right.  We use the LEN Function to count how many characters are in the cell, allowing us to remove n (ex. 1) characters from the left:

Right

We will walkthrough this below.

LEN Function – Count Characters in a Cell

First, we will use the LEN Function to count the number of characters in the cell:

LEN

In the next section, we will use the RIGHT function to trim off a certain number of characters from the left.

RIGHT Function

The RIGHT Function returns a certain number of characters from the right side of a cell. For the number of characters, we will use the result of the LEN Function minus the number of characters to remove (ex. 1):

With Right

Combining these functions yields the original formula.

Right

Remove First Character(s) From Left in Google Sheets

All the examples explained above work the same in Google sheets as they do in Excel.

remove first chars from left Google Function

 

 

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