How to Remove the First Character from a Cell in Excel 2013

A lot of data that you encounter will not be formatted the way that you need it. Whether a colleague likes to add a space or a special character in front of data that they type, or they do unusual things with their information to make it sort a particular way, it isn’t uncommon for data to need edits before its value is “correct.”

While there are several methods available for adding or deleting characters from data, there is one particular option that is helpful when you need to remove the same number of characters from the beginning of a range of cells. Our guide below will show you a simple way to remove the first character from a cell in Excel 2013. You can then copy and paste that formula into additional cells, allowing you to remove the first character from other cells as well.


Using a Formula to Strip the First Character from a Cell in Excel 2013

The steps below are going to use a formula that allows you to remove the first character, whether it is a letter, number, space, or special character, from a cell. So if, for example, the content of your cell is “*12345”, then this formula will remove the “*” and leave you with “12345”. While you could click inside the cell and delete that character yourself, you can repeat this action for other cells, too, by copying the formula you create, then pasting it into additional cells in the column.

Step 1: Open your spreadsheet in Excel 2013.


Step 2: Insert a new column to the right of the column containing the cell that you want to modify. Click here for more information on inserting a new column.

insert a new column



Step 3: Click inside the cell to the right of the existing cell for which you want to remove the first character.

click inside the cell where you want the shortened data



Step 4: Type =RIGHT(A2, LEN(A2)-1) , but replace both instances of A2 with the location of the cell that you wish to modify, then press Enter on your keyboard to execute the formula. If you would like to remove more than 1 character from the left of your cell data, then change the “-1” part of the formula to the number of characters that you wish to remove.

type the formula to remove the leftmost character in a cell



If you wish to apply this same effect to other cells, then you can copy the cell with the formula and paste it into the additional cells. Excel will automatically update the formula to be relative to the pasted location.

how to remove the first character from a cell in excel 2013


Note that you will need to use the Paste as Value option if you want to paste your edited cell data in place of the original data. Learn more about pasting as values in Excel to see how this works, and why you might want to use it. newsletter

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