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How to extract first/last n characters from string in Excel?

For instance, there is a list with long strings in each cell, and you want to extract the first n characters from each string only, like the first 3 characters of each string, and now you can use the following methods to solve it in Excel.

Extract first/last n characters from string with formula

Extract first/last n characters from string with Kutools for Excel

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arrow blue right bubble Extract first/last n characters from string with formula

Extract first n characters from string

Select a blank cell, here I select the Cell G1, and type this formula =LEFT(E1,3) (E1 is the cell you want to extract the first 3 characters from), press Enter button, and drag fill handle to the range you want. Then you see the first 3 characters are extracted.

If you want to extract the last n characters, like the last 3 characters, type this formula = RIGHT(E1, 3).

arrow blue right bubble Extract first/last n characters from string with Kutools for Excel

The Remove by Position feature of Kutools for Excel also can extract the first or last n characters only from strings in Excel.

Kutools for Excel includes more than 300 handy Excel tools. Free to try with no limitation in 30 days. Get it Now

1. Select the range you want to extract first 3 characters firstly, and click Kutools > Text Tools > Remove by position. See screenshot:

2. In the Remove by Position dialog, you need to type the number of the characters you want to remove from the string into the Numbers textbox, like in this case, I want to reserve the first 3 characters, so I need to remove 8 characters from right, then check From right. See screenshot

3. Click Ok, and you see only the first 3 character are reserved.

Tip: If you want to extract the last 3 characters, check From left and specify the number of the characters you want to remove from the strings.


1. Applying this feature will change your original data, you’d better copy them firstly.

2. Only all the strings in each cell have the some characters long can this feature work.

Click here for more on Remove by Position.

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  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    matt · 17 days ago
    i'm trying to set up a formula in my current worksheet. i want to remove everything after the first 5 numbers. I cant use kutools app at work. I dont know how to add the formula in to my current one. Any thoughts? the 53090 is what i would want and that is located in cell Q. This is a break down of 75 different numbers for different groups. I have each set of numbers assigned to a different grouping. As of right now i manually have to keep removing the extra numbers from each cell.

  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Gary Zeune · 1 years ago
    I love Kutools explanation needs to say this Kutools works only if the cells have the same number of characters. It won't work if the cells have different number of characters. For example, say I want to extract the first character of these FDIC board members ie, M, L and B. Kutools won't do it. But "=LEFT(E1,3)" in the first technique will work.
    Martin J. Gruenberg
    Lorraine Dennison
    Barbara Ryan