Excel: How to Extract First 5 Characters from Cell


You can use the following formula to extract the first five characters from a string in Excel:

=LEFT(A2, 5)

This particular formula extracts the first five characters from cell A2.

For example, if cell A2 contains Mavericks then this formula will return Maver.

Note: If the cell contains spaces in the first five characters then these spaces will be counted towards the total character count of five.

The following example shows how to use this formula in practice.

Example: How to Extract First Five Characters from Cell in Excel

Suppose we have the following column of basketball team names in Excel:

Suppose we would like to extract the first five characters from each cell in column A.

We can type the following formula into cell B2 to do so:

=LEFT(A2, 5)

We can then click and drag this formula down to each remaining cell in column B:

Excel extract first 5 characters from cell

Column B now contains the first character from each corresponding cell in column A.

For example:

  • The formula extracts Maver from Mavericks
  • The formula extracts Spurs from Spurs
  • The formula extracts Rocke from Rockets

And so on.

Note that this formula uses the LEFT function to extract a specific number of characters from the left of each string.

If your string contains a blank space as the first character, then this formula will simply return a blank space.

To ignore leading blanks, you can use the TRIM function within the LEFT function as follows:

=LEFT(TRIM(A2), 5)

Note: You can find the complete documentation for the LEFT function in Excel here.

Additional Resources

The following tutorials explain how to perform other common operations in Excel:

Excel: How to Remove Specific Text from Cells
Excel: How to Extract First Word from Cell
Excel: How to Insert a Character into a String

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