How to Extract First Character from String in Excel

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:

Excel extract first character

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

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