You may have a workbook which contains text but you only want to extract certain characters from it. For example, you may only want to extract the first name from a cell which contains the first and last name of a person. In this tutorial I will show you how to manipulate text and in particular, I will show you some great techniques on how to remove the first 4 characters in Excel using the following functions:

1) Excel RIGHT Function

2) Excel MID Function

3) Excel REPLACE Function

Using the Excel RIGHT Function

In this example I want to remove the first 4 characters from the postcode CV36 7BL and leave the last 3 characters. Let’s assume the postcode is in cell A2 in the Excel spreadsheet. The formula in cell B2 will be:

**=RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)-4)**

So how does this formula work? Let’s break this down so you can understand how it works.

**RIGHT Function**

The RIGHT function extracts a given number of characters from the right side of a specified text. For example =RIGHT(“bananas”,4) will result in “anas”

**LEN Function**

The LEN function extracts the length of a given string. For example =LEN(“apples”) will result in 6 as there are 6 characters in the string “apples”.

**RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)**

This section of the formula will return 8. For the first argument of the RIGHT function you have to specify what text to use. In this example it is cell A2 i.e. the postcode. For the second argument you have to specify the number of characters you want to extract. For this argument I am using the LEN function which returns the number of characters of the postcode CV36 7BL which is 8. The space between CV36 and 7BL counts as a character. The formula =RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2) translates to =RIGHT(A2,8) which returns CV36 7BL.

**RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)-4)**

I want to remove the first 4 characters so therefore I include a -4 at the end of the formula. LEN(A2)-4 therefore returns 4 (8-4=4).

If I simplify this further the RIGHT function is =RIGHT(A2,4) and returns CV36.

How do you Remove the First nth Character of a String?

If you want to remove the first nth characters in a string you just change the -4 at the end of the formula to whatever number of characters you want to remove. For example, if you want to remove the first 3 characters of a string then simply change the -4 to -3. so the formula becomes =RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)-3). If you want to remove the first 2 characters then change it to -2 so it becomes =RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)-2) and so on.

Using the Excel MID Function

Another way to remove the first 4 characters from the postcode CV36 7BL is to use the Excel MID function. Assume again the postcode is in cell A2 and the formula is in cell B2.

The formula is now **=MID(A2,5,LEN(A2))**

So how does this formula work? I will explain each section of the MID formula.

**The MID Function**

The Excel MID function extracts the middle of a text based on the specified number of characters. For example, =MID(“bananas”,3,2) returns “na”. The first argument is the text string or a cell reference you want to extract from. The second argument is the first character you want to extract. The third argument is the number of characters you want to extract.

**=MID(A2,5**

This section of the formula is saying start from the fifth character of the postcode CV36 7BL. This means that it will start from the space as the space is the fifth character along from the left.

**LEN(A2)**

The LEN function is returning the number of characters of the postcode CV36 7BL which is 8.

**=MID(A2,5,LEN(A2))**

If you simplify this formula the MID function is =MID(A2,5,8). It starts from the space and extracts 8 characters along. Because there is only 3 characters after the space it therefore extracts 7BL.

How do you Remove the First nth Character of a String?

If you want to remove the first nth character then just add a 1 in the MID functions second argument. For example if I want to remove the first 3 characters then I enter 4 in the MID functions second argument so it becomes **=MID(A2,4,LEN(A2))**. If I want to remove the first 2 characters then just enter 3 for the second argument so it becomes **=MID(A2,3,LEN(A2))**.

Using the Excel REPLACE Function

Carrying on from the theme of removing the first 4 characters from the postcode CV36 7BL I will now show you how to do this using the Excel REPLACE function. Again I assume the postcode is in cell A2 and the formula is in cell B2.

The formula in cell B2 is now **=REPLACE(A2,1,4,””)**

I will now show you how this formula works.

**The REPLACE Function**

The REPLACE function replaces a set of characters in a string with another set of characters. The first argument of the replace function is the string or the cell you want to replace characters with, i.e. the postcode in cell A2. The second argument is the position of the old text to begin replacing characters. The third argument is the number of characters you want to replace the old text with. The fourth argument is the new characters you want to replace the old text with.

**REPLACE(A2,1,4,””)**

The first argument is the postcode in cell A2. The second argument is the start number. I want to start from the beginning so I enter 1. The third argument is 4 as I want to replace the first 4 characters with new text. The last argument is two quotation marks which mean empty strings. I want to replace the first 4 characters with empty strings so I am left with the last 3 characters.