Removing the last number of characters from a string in Excel and Google Spreadsheets

Sometimes you want to remove some number of last letters from a string in your spreadsheet. For this you can use a very handy function: LEFT()

LEFT() returns the first X characters in a string, based on the amount of characters you specify. Like: LEFT(text,num_chars)

Say you want to remove the last 3 characters from a string in cell A1 you can use:

=LEFT(A1,LEN(A1)-3)

Or more generally:

=LEFT(A1,LEN(A1)-[number of characters to remove])

How does this LEFT() function work?

Say for example that in cell A1 you have a string “IncomeMAX” and you want to remove the last three characters (“MAX”):

  • First, LEN(A1) returns how long the string in cell A1 is: 8 characters
  • Then it subtracts 3, in order to leave out the last 3 characters: 8-3=5
  • Then LEFT() makes sure that only the first 5 characters from the left are returned: Income

That’s it! As always, let me know in the comments when you have any questions!

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