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Excel Formula: Abbreviate Words or Names

Author: Sun Last Modified: 2019-12-24

In this tutorial, it provides some formulas to extract initial letters from each word in a cell as below screenshot shown. Also, it explains how the formulas work in Excel.
doc abbreviate words 1

In Office 365 and Excel 2019

The TEXTJOIN function is a new function available in Office 365 and Excel 2019 which can be used to extract all initial letters from each word.

Generic formula:



Text: the text string you want to abbreviate.

How this formula work

Supposing you want to extract initials from cell A1, use this formula in cell B1.


Press Shift + Ctrl + Enter key, and all initials of each word will be extracted.
doc abbreviate words 2


1. The TEXTJOIN function is used to join text values with delimiter.

2. The MID, ROW, INDIRECT and LEN functions are used to convert the text string to an array or letters. Supposing


Press Shift + Ctrl + Enter

Returns an array of letters


And then this array is fed into CODE function, which outputs an array of numeric ascii codes, one code for each letter.

3. The ROW(INDIRECT("63:90") corresponds to the ascii codes for all capital letters A-Z.

4. The ISNUMBER, IF and MATCH functions are used to filter the results for final text joining.


1. If there are no capital letters in the text string, this formula returns blank.

2. This formula will extract all capital letters.
doc abbreviate words 3

In Office 2016 or previous versions

If you are in Excel 2016 or previous versions, you can use the TRIM function.

Generic formula:

TRIM(LEFT(Text,1)&MID(Text,FIND(" ",Text&" ")+1,1)&MID(Text,FIND("*",SUBSTITUTE(Text&" "," ","*",2))+1,1))


Text: the text string you want to extract the first letters of each word.

How this formula work

Supposing you want to extract initials from cell A1, use this formula in cell B1.

=TRIM(LEFT(A1,1)&MID(A1,FIND(" ",A1&" ")+1,1)&MID(A1,FIND("*",SUBSTITUTE(A1&" "," ","*",2))+1,1))

Press Enter key, all first letters of each word in cell A1 is extracted.
doc abbreviate words 4


1. The TRIM function removes all extra spaces in the text string.

2. The LEFT(A1,1) extracts the first letter of the text string.

3. MID(A1,FIND(" ",A1&" ")+1,1) extracts the first letter of the second word which is separated by space.

4. MID(A1,FIND("*",SUBSTITUTE(A1&" "," ","*",2))+1,1)) extracts the first letter of the third word which is separated by space.


1. This formula only works for three or less words in a cell.

2. You can change “ “ in the formula to other delimiters.

3. This formula extracts the first letters in case insensitive, if you want the formula always returns in upper case, add the UPPER function to the formula

=UPPER(TRIM(LEFT(A1,1)&MID(A1,FIND(" ",A1&" ")+1,1)&MID(A1,FIND("*",SUBSTITUTE(A1&" "," ","*",2))+1,1)))

Sample File

doc sampleClick to download sample file

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