Excel: A Formula for LEFT Until Specific Character


The LEFT function in Excel is used to extract a certain number of characters from the left side of a string.

However, you can use the following formula to use the LEFT function to extract all characters from the left side of a string until a specific character is encountered: 

=LEFT(cell, FIND("specific_character", cell)-1)

For example, you can use the following formula to extract all of the characters on the left side of the string in cell A2 until an underscore is encountered:

=LEFT(A2, FIND("_", A2)-1)

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

Example: Using LEFT Until Specific Character in Excel

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

We can type the following formula into cell B2 to extract all of the characters in the team name of cell A2 until an underscore is encountered:

=LEFT(A2, FIND("_", A2)-1)

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

Column B now displays all of the characters in each team name until an underscore is encountered in the name.

It’s worth noting that if no underscore is found in the Team name, the formula will return #VALUE! as a result.

To return a different value, simply use the IFERROR() function.

For example, we can use the following IFERROR() function to return “None Found” if an underscore is not found in a given team name:

=IFERROR(LEFT(A2,FIND("_", A2)-1),"None Found")

The following screenshot shows how to use this formula in practice:

Note that you can also return a different value by simply replacing “None Found” with some other value in the IFERROR() function.

Additional Resources

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

Excel: How to Use MID Function to End of String
Excel: How to Use MID Function for Variable Length Strings
Excel: How to Remove First 3 Characters from String

One Reply to “Excel: A Formula for LEFT Until Specific Character”

  1. Thanks, would it be possible to search for both “_” and “-” and the delete everything that comes after?

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