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

=LEFT(A2, 1)

This particular formula extracts the first character from cell **A2**.

For example, if cell **A2** contains **Giraffe** then this formula will return **G**.

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

**Example: How to Extract First Character in Excel**

Suppose we have the following column of strings in Excel:

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

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

=LEFT(A2, 1)

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

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

For example:

- The formula extracts
**G**from**Giraffe** - The formula extracts
**E**from**Elephant** - The formula extracts
**P**from**Pig**

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), 1)

**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