This article describes the formula syntax and usage of the LEFT and LEFTB function (function: A prewritten formula that takes a value or values, performs an operation, and returns a value or values. Use functions to simplify and shorten formulas on a worksheet, especially those that perform lengthy or complex calculations.) in Microsoft Excel.
LEFT returns the first character or characters in a text string, based on the number of characters you specify.
LEFTB returns the first character or characters in a text string, based on the number of bytes you specify.
Important LEFTB counts 2 bytes per character only when a DBCS language is set as the default language. Otherwise LEFTB behaves the same as LEFT, counting 1 byte per character.
The languages that support DBCS include Japanese, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), and Korean.
The function syntax has the following arguments (argument: A value that provides information to an action, an event, a method, a property, a function, or a procedure.):
- Text Required. The text string that contains the characters you want to extract.
- Num_chars Optional. Specifies the number of characters you want LEFT to extract.
- Num_chars must be greater than or equal to zero.
- If num_chars is greater than the length of text, LEFT returns all of text.
- If num_chars is omitted, it is assumed to be 1.
- Num_bytes Optional. Specifies the number of characters you want LEFTB to extract, based on bytes.
Example 1: LEFT
The example may be easier to understand if you copy it to a blank worksheet.
How do I copy an example?
- Select the example in this article. If you are copying the example in Excel Web App, copy and paste one cell at a time.Important Do not select the row or column headers.
Selecting an example from Help
- Press CTRL+C.
- Create a blank workbook or worksheet.
- In the worksheet, select cell A1, and press CTRL+V. If you are working in Excel Web App, repeat copying and pasting for each cell in the example.
Important For the example to work properly, you must paste it into cell A1 of the worksheet.
- To switch between viewing the results and viewing the formulas that return the results, press CTRL+` (grave accent), or on the Formulas tab, in the Formula Auditing group, click the Show Formulas button.
After you copy the example to a blank worksheet, you can adapt it to suit your needs.
||First four characters in the first string (Sale)
||First character in the second string (S)
Example 2: LEFTB (with your computer set to a default language that supports DBCS)
In the following example:
- LEFTB returns the first 2 characters, because each character is counted as 2.
- LEFT returns the first 4 characters, because each character is counted as 1. LEFT returns the first 4 characters no matter what the default language setting is.
=LEFTB(" ",4) equals " "
=LEFT(" ",4) equals " "