How To Use Excel LEFT Function

how to use excel left function

Quick Intro

Excel LEFT Function can extract a specified characters from a cell starting from the first (left) character. You just have to specify the numbers of characters which you want to extract from the text string.

Use Excel LEFT Function



  • text A text or number from which you want to extract some characters.
  • num_char Number of characters you want to extract.

More Information on Excel LEFT Function

  • num_char can be zero or greater than zero.
  • If you skip specifying num_char, it will assume 1 as default.
  • You can’t refer to more than one cell. If you do that it will return the characters from the top right cell of the selected range.
  • It can work with numbers also in the same manner.
  • It can also work as an array formula.
  • With negative num_char, it will return an error.
  • You can also enter a text string directly into the formula.


In the below example, I have extracted the first five digits from the text string using Left Formula. I have just specified the number of characters to extract from the string.

Excel Left Function To Extract Text

In the below example, I have used LEN Function and Find Function along with the LEFT Function to create a formula which can extract the name from the cell.

It will first count total length of the text string and then find the position of space between first and last name & in the end left function extracted the first name from the test string.

Split Name With Excel LEFT Function

Sample File

download sample file to learn more about this tips

What’s Next?

To learn more about Excel LEFT Function you can check Microsoft’s Help Section. And, if you have a unique idea to use it, I would love to hear from you.

There are also you have RIGHT | MID functions which are highly useful. Apart from this, I have a list of excel functions and some real life formulas examples.