Excel LEFT Function

HomeExcel FunctionsExcel LEFT Function (Example + Sample File)


The Excel LEFT Function is listed under Microsoft Excel's Text Functions category. It returns sequential characters from a string starting from the left side (starting). In simple words, with the LEFT function, you can extract characters from a string from its left side.

How to use it

To learn how to use the LEFT function in Excel, you need to understand its syntax and arguments:




  • text: A text or number from which you want to extract characters.
  • [num_char]: The number of characters you want to extract.


  • 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.


To master the LEFT function we need to try it out in an example, so make sure to check out the below one:

In the below example, we have extracted the first five digits from a text string using LEFT by specifying the number of characters to extract.

Related functions

This tutorial is the part of our Excel Functions with Examples (Function Guide) and below are some of the related functions:

About the Author

Puneet Gogia

Puneet is using Excel since his college days. He helped thousands of people to understand the power of the spreadsheets and learn Microsoft Excel. You can find him online, tweeting about Excel, on a running track, or sometimes hiking up a mountain.