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Excel Formula: Trim text to n words

This tutorial introduces a formula which combine LEFT, FIND and SUBSTITUTE functions to extract first n words from a long string in Excel cell, and also explains how to use the formula.
doc abbreviate words 1

Generic formula:

=LEFT(txt,FIND("~",SUBSTITUTE(txt," ","~",n))-1)


txt: the text string or cell you want to trim.
N: the number of words you want to extract from left side of the given text string.

How this formula work

Take an instance, you want to extract part of words from left side in each cell of range B3:B6 to D3:D6, the number of words decided by the value in C3:C6. Please use below formula in D3.

=LEFT(B3,FIND("~",SUBSTITUTE(B3," ","~",C3))-1)

Press Enter key, then drag fill handle down to D6.
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SUBSTITUTE function: this function replaces a specific text with another one. Here, using this formula SUBSTITUTE(B3," ","~",C3) to replace space “ “ to “~” in the nth position.
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FIND function: to get the location of a specific text. Here FIND("~",SUBSTITUTE(B3," ","~",C3) finds the location of “~” in B3.
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LEFT function: this function is used to extract text from left side of a given text string. Here the formula LEFT(B3,FIND("~",SUBSTITUTE(B3," ","~",C3))-1) can be seen as LEFT(B3,54-1) which will extract 53 characters from left side of the text in cell B3.
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Sample File

doc sampleClick to download sample file

Relative Formulas

Relative Functions

  • SUBSTITUTE function
    Replace a text in a specific position with another one.
  • FIND function
    Find the location of a character in the text string.
  • LEFT function
    Extract part of text from left side.
  • MID
    Return the specific characters from the middle of text string.

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