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## How to Remove First 4 Characters in Excel

You may have a workbook that contains text but you only want to extract a few letters from it. For example, you may want to extract only first name from a cell that contains a person’s first and last name. 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 say the postcode is in cell A2 in an Excel spreadsheet. The formula in cell B2 will be:

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

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

**Correct function**

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

**The LEN function**

The LEN function returns the length of a given string. For example =LEN(“apples”) will return 6 because the string “apples” contains 6 characters.

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

This part of the formula will return 8. For the first argument of the RIGHT function you must specify which text to use. In this example it is cell A2 i.e. Postcode. For the second argument you must 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 postcode CV36 7BL which is 8. A 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 I include -4 at the end of the formula. LEN(A2)-4 therefore returns 4 (8-4=4).

If I simplify it 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 the string you just change the -4 at the end of the formula to the number of characters you want to remove. For example, if you want to remove the first 3 characters of a string, change -4 to -3. So the formula becomes =RIGHT(A2,LEN(A2)-3). If you want to remove the first 2 characters 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 postcode CV36 7BL is to use the Excel MID function. Again assume 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.

**MID function**

The Excel MID function extracts the middle of text based on a specified number of characters. For example, =MID(“banana”,3,2) returns “na”. The first argument is the text string or 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 part of the formula starts with the fifth character of the postcode CV36 7BL. This means it will start with a space because the space is the fifth character from the left.

**LEN(A2)**

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

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

If you simplify this formula the MID function becomes =MID(A2,5,8). It starts with a space and extracts 8 characters. Because there are 3 characters after space so it outputs 7BL.

How do you remove the first nth character of a string?

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

Using the Excel REPLACE function

Continuing with the theme of removing the first 4 characters from 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.

Cell B2 now has the formula **= REPLACE(A2,1,4,””)**

Now I will show you how this formula works.

**REPLACE function**

The REPLACE function replaces a set of characters in a string with another set of characters. The first argument to the replace function is the string or cell you want to replace the characters with, such as the postcode in cell A2. The second argument is the position of the old text to start 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 because I want to replace the first 4 characters with the new text. The last argument is two quotation marks which means an empty string. I want to replace the first 4 characters with empty strings so I’m left with the last 3 characters.

How do you remove the first nth character of a string?

To remove the first nth character replace the third argument with the number of characters you want to remove. For example, if you want to remove the first 3 characters, change the third argument to 3 so that it becomes **= REPLACE(A2,1,3,””)**.

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