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 Online, 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 Online, 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 " "