Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Deleting Everything Up to a Character Sequence.

# Deleting Everything Up to a Character Sequence

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 1, 2018)

Steven has a worksheet that has lots of text in it. In the cells in column A he wants to delete everything that may occur before a given sequence of characters, such as everything before =XX=. There may be multiple instances of these characters in each cell, but Steven only wants to delete everything before the first occurrence.

One way to do this is to use a formula. For instance, the following formula will evaluate whatever is in cell A1 and simply return everything up to the =XX= characters. If the characters are not found in the cell, then the entire cell is returned:

=RIGHT(A1,IF(ISERROR(FIND("=XX=",A1,1)),
LEN(A1),LEN(A1)-FIND("=XX=",A1,1)+1))

If you want, instead, to not return the first occurrence of =XX=, all you need to do is change the +1 near the end of the formula to -3.

If you prefer a macro-based solution you could use a routine like the following. It examines all the cells that are currently selected and then deletes everything before the =XX= sequence.

Sub DeleteToSequence()
Dim rCell As Range
Dim sSeq As String
Dim x As Long

sSeq = "=XX="
For Each rCell In Selection
x = InStr(rCell.Value, sSeq)
If x > 0 Then
rCell.Value = Mid(rCell, x)
End If
Next

Set rCell = Nothing
End Sub

You should be aware that this macro can cause some errors, particularly when what you are searching for begins with an equal sign (as in =XX=). When a string beginning with an equal sign is stuffed back into the cell, you'll get a #NAME? error because Excel tries to parse the cell as if it contains a formula.

If you want to delete everything up through the character sequence, use this line in the middle of the routine:

rCell.Value = Mid(rCell, x + Len(sSeq))

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8446) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Deleting Everything Up to a Character Sequence.

##### Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is 8 + 2?

2018-12-04 18:37:14

Peter Atherton

Gary

Use one or the other line, not both. The following shows possible results

The active cell shows an error because it mixes Text & numbers in A8. The lines used are show in row 6.

(see Figure 1 below)

Figure 1.

2018-12-03 09:39:25

Gary

Thank you for this tip. There is one part that I don't quite understand. In the very last part of the tip you mention adding "rCell.Value = Mid(rCell, x + Len(sSeq))" in the middle of the routine. Do you mean that it replaces something that is already there, or just add this as an extra line? And where exactly do I add it- can you be a bit more specific?

Thank you!

Gary

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