How to use LEFT, LEFTB functions

A blue left-facing arrow.
  • Applies to: Excel for Microsoft 365, Excel for Microsoft 365 for Mac, Excel for the web, Excel 2019, Excel 2016, Excel 2019 for Mac, Excel 2013, Excel 2010, Excel 2007, Excel 2016 for Mac, Excel for Mac 2011, Excel Starter 2010.

This post will teach you how to use the LEFT/LEFTB functions in Microsoft Excel. It includes its description, syntax and example for you to experiment with at your own leisure.

A blue left arrow.
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay.


LEFT brings back the first character or characters in a text string, according to the amount of characters you define.

LEFTB simply yields the first character or characters within a text string, linked to the total number of bytes you confirm.


  • These functions might only be accessible in certain languages.
  • LEFTB counts 2 bytes per character merely when a DBCS language is defined as the standard language. Or else, LEFTB mimics LEFT, counting 1 byte per character.

The languages that facilitate DBCS comprise Japanese, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), and Korean.

Syntax of the LEFT/LEFTB Functions

LEFT(text, [num_chars])

LEFTB(text, [num_bytes])

The function syntax includes these arguments:

  • Text  –  Required. The text string including your desired characters that you seek to extract.
  • Num_chars  –  Optional. Verifies your preferred proportion of characters you plan LEFT to extract.
    • Num_chars needs to be greater than or equal to zero.
    • If num_chars exceeds the text length, then LEFT yields the entire text.
    • If num_chars is missed out, it is believed to be 1 automatically.
  • Num_bytes  –   Optional. Confirms your desired amount of characters you seek LEFTB to extract, according to on bytes.


Copy the example data in the displayed table, and paste it in cell A1 of a new Excel worksheet. For formulas to present results, pick them, press F2, and then press Enter. If necessary for you, you can modify the column widths to have a complete view of the entire dataset.

Sale Price
=LEFT(A2,4)Initial four characters in the first string.Sale
=LEFT(A3)First character in the second string.S

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