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 How to quickly find the position of first letter (alpha) from string in Excel?

Author: Sun Last Modified: 2022-09-16

For instance, here is a list of text strings which are mixed with numbers and letters in a sheet, and to find the position of first letter (alpha character) as below screenshot shown maybe a troublesome problem for you. However in this article, I introduce some tricks on solving this job quickly for you.

Here are some formulas to help you to find the position of first letter in a string.

Select a blank cell which you will place the result, here take B2 for instance, and enter this formula =MATCH(TRUE,ISERROR(VALUE(MID(A2,ROW(INDIRECT("1:"&LEN(A2))),1))),0), hold Shift + Ctrl, and press Enter key to get the result. Then click at B2 and drag auto fill handle to over the cells which need to apply this formula. See screenshot:
doc find first letter position 2

Tip: with above formula, if there is no any alpha character, it will display an error value.
doc find first letter position 3

In the formula, A2 is the cell you want to find the first alpha’s position, you can change it as you need.

If you usually apply Defined Function, here also has a Defined Function to help you find the first alpha and return to its position.

1. Press Alt + F11 keys to open the Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications window.

2. Click Insert > Module, and paste below code to the Module script.

VBA: Find position of first letter

Function FirstNonDigit(xStr As String) As Long
    Dim xChar As Integer
    Dim xPos As Integer
    Dim I As Integer
    For I = 1 To Len(xStr)
        xChar = Asc(Mid(xStr, I, 1))
        If (xChar <= 90 And xChar >= 65) Or (xChar <= 122 And xChar >= 97) Then
            xPos = I
            Exit For
        End If
    FirstNonDigit = xPos
End Function

doc find first letter position 5

3. Save the code and go back to the sheet, select a blank cell and enter this formula =FirstNonDigit(A15), press Enter key, and you can find the position of first alpha character.
doc find first letter position 6

But in some other cases, you may want to extract only alpha characters from a mixed string as below screenshot shown. In this situation, you can apply the Remove Characters utility of Kutools for Excel – a handy and helpful add in tool to quickly get it done.
doc find first letter position 7

Kutools for Excel, with more than 300 handy functions, makes your jobs more easier. 

After free installing Kutools for Excel, please do as below:

1. Make a copy for the strings you want to extract alpha characters from. See screenshot:
doc find first letter position 8

2. Then select the copied strings and click Kutools > Text > Remove Characters. See screenshot:
doc find first letter position 12

3. And in the prompt Remove Characters dialog, check Non-alpha option only, you can preview the removed results as you check in the Preview box. See screenshot:
doc find first letter position 10

4. Click Ok or Apply. Now only the alpha characters are extracted.
doc find first letter position 11

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Comments (4)
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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
thanks VBA good, but suppose if decimal number comes like 123.45GB ?
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hi,slowlearner, I have updated the code in the tutorial, now it will only find the position of first alphabetical character (excluding symbols and numbers). Please try again.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
the visual basic FirstNonDigit is wrong too: it takes space or ? or... as letters, bad bad bad
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
"Find position of first alpha in string with formulas" : that formula MATCH(TRUE,ISERROR(VALUE(MID(A2,ROW(INDIRECT("1:"&LEN(A2))),1))),0) is wrong if you've got a space in the cell a space an alpha?!?
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