How to Select First 5 Characters from another Cell in Microsoft Excel

To select the first 5 characters from another cell in Microsoft Excel 2016/2013/2010, we need to use the “Left” function.

LEFT: Returns the specified number of characters starting from the left-most character in the text string.

Syntax of “LEFT” function:

=LEFT (text,[num_chars])

Example: In this example Cell A2 contains a code whose first 5 characters are city code, to separate the city code from the text, we should know excel formula to copy the first 5 characters in excel:

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=LEFT(A2, 5)

Thus, Excel matches the first 5 characters and returns “11005”, as shown in the image. Copy the formula in the cells below to do the same for other codes.

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This formula is the command that locates and selects specific text.

Let’s take an example to understand how to select the first 5 characters from another cell.

Example 1: I have a list of email addresses in column A. The username is the first 5 characters of the email addresses.

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To separate the first 5 characters from the list, follow the below-mentioned steps:-

Select Cell B2, write the formula

=LEFT (A2, 5)

and press Enter on the keyboard.

The function will return the first 5 characters from the cell.

To copy the formula in all cells select cell B2, press the keys“CTRL + C” on the keyboard and select the range B3 to B6 and press key “CTRL + V”.

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Note: If there is no specific number of characters for the name in the email id, you can use the “Left” function along with the “Search” function.

SEARCH: The SEARCH function return the starting position of a text string which it locates within the specified text string.

Syntax of “SEARCH” function:

=SEARCH (find_text,within_text,[start_num])

Use FIND instead of SEARCH if you want it to be case sensitive.


Cell A1 contains the text “Bush, George”

=SEARCH (“,”, A1, 1), the function will return 5.

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This means that the “comma” is located at the 5 positions in the text string, starting from the left-most character.

To separate the name from the list by using the “Left” function along with “Search” function follow the below-mentioned steps:-

Select the Cell B2, write the formula. Press Enter on the keyboard.

=LEFT (A2, SEARCH ("@", A2)-1).

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The function will return the name from the email id.

Copy the formula in all cells press key “CTRL + C” on the keyboard and select the range B3 to B6 and press key “CTRL + V”.

Here we can see that the name is returned from the email id irrespective of how many characters are present in the name.

Extract Text After a Specific Character/s

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Sometimes you gotta retrieve text from the right. As in the above image, you can see we have column name Full Name. It has a name in reverse order (surname_firstname). Next to name column we have a column named Get First Name. We need to extract first name from full name in Column B. Lets see the formula first:

Copy this formula in B2 and drag it down.


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Looks complicated? Its not. Let me explain.  As in all formulas, middle function is translated first (except IF), we will start from middle too.

LEN(A2): The LEN function in excel counts how many characters in a cell. It will translate to 12. Which makes our function


FIND("_",A2): Similar to SEARCH function, FIND function returns the position of character/s in cell. This will translate to 6. Which makes our function

=RIGHT(A2,12-6)  =>RIGHT(A2,6)

RIGHT(A2,6):  The RIGHT function in excel returns a specified number of characters from a cell. Here it will translate to Manish.

I tried to explain use of LEFT and RIGHT functions and how you can combine them with LEN, SEARCH and FIND function to make it dynamic. I hope it was helpful, but if it wasn’t let me know it in  the comments section.

Related Articles:

Extract Text From A String In Excel Using Excel’s LEFT And RIGHT Function

How To Extract Domain Name from EMail in Excel

Split Numbers and Text from String in Excel

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  1. Hello,
    Could you pls help me with my problem. I have a list of customers one column in Excel.
    Firstly I must find any duplicate; secondly, I should combine duplicates. The problem is there a lot of mess, for example, The Bread and Thebread, or and zinckru, or Popcorns and Popcorn's. I would greatly appreciate any help.

    • Hi Sophie,

      Use the Search function in adjacent column to search for confirmed strings in messed up characters. Use the partial match method below.

  2. Hello,
    Can someone help me with a formula to compare characters in column B to characters in column C??
    I need to compare B13 to C13, then I need to compare B14 to C14, then I need to compare B15 to C15, etc... all the way to row 3993.

    Thank you,
    Jessica Porras

    • simply write =B13=C13 in D13 and copy this in below cells. All the relative cells will be compared automatically and TRUE-FALSE values will be shown in D13, D14,...

      Read here about it:

  3. I like the helpful information you provide in your articles. Ill bookmark your weblog and check again here regularly. I'm quite certain I will learn plenty of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

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