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How to conditional format cells based on first letter/character in Excel?

With the conditional formatting function, you can highlight all cells based on first letters in a list of data in Excel. For example, you can highlight all cells which the first letters are A among the data. This tutorial aims to help you conditional formatting cells based on first letter in Excel.

Conditional format cells based on first letter/character in Excel

Conditional format cells based on first letter/character in Excel

For example, you have a list of data in range A2:A8 as below screenshot shown. If you want to highlight all cells which the first letters are A in the list, please do as follows.

1. Select the range A2:A8.

2. Then click Conditional Formatting > New Rule under Home tab to create a new conditional formatting rule. See screenshot:

3. In the New Formatting Rule dialog box, please do as follows step by step.

1). In the Select a Rule Type section, select Use a formula to determine which cells to format;
2). Copy and paste formula =LEFT(A2,1)="A" into the Format values where this formula is true box;
Note: paying more attention to the formula, A2 is the first cell of your selected range, and A is the first letter you will highlight cells based on. Please change these two values to meet your needs.
3). Click the Format button. See screenshot:

4. Then it gets into the Format Cells dialog box, please specify your cell format and click the OK button.

5. Finally click the OK button when it returns to the New Formatting Rule dialog box.

Then all cell values which begin with the letter A are added the conditional formatting you specified. See screenshot:

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Comments (5)
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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
hi, in excel one column contains some cells have numbers and some cells have names. i want to highlight in whole column greater than 200 numbers. i tried by using conditional formating but names also highlited .please slove.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
If one alphabet is repeated continue 9 time 10th one it's should show warning or indication .
Example in A1 cell to A9 cell "P" is repeated if I tried to write is A10 cell P meas it's should show a warning or indication .
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Or...just do conditional formatting with the "text that contains" option. Home > Conditional Formatting > Highlight Cells Rules > Text that contains
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
I followed the directions but for some reason my conditional formatting rule is highlighting cells outside of the logic that I have set. Any ideas why it might be doing this? This is my formula: =LEFT(L2,1)="A"

But Excel is highlighting certain cells that start with "G" and I cannot see why it is doing this.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hi Anhthu Huynh,
Can you provide a screenshot of your data, or upload a sample file here? This formula helps to highlight cells that start with the character "a" or "A" in the selected range. For highlighting the cells that start with "G", I can't find a reason yet.
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