Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Getting Rid of Alphabetic Characters.

Getting Rid of Alphabetic Characters

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 16, 2015)

Bryan has a worksheet that has a lot of cells that have some alphabetic characters in them. He is looking for a way to get rid of only those alphabetic characters, no matter where they appear in the cell. For instance, if the cell contains "ABC123," Bryan wants to get rid of "ABC" and have just "123" remaining. Similarly, "A3B2C1" should become "321" and "#45P*%" should become "#45*%".

The only way to approach this problem is through the use of macros. If you want to simply strip out the characters, in place, then you can do so by selecting the cells you want to affect and then running a macro that examines each cell and deletes the offending characters. There are many ways you could do this; the following macro is a straightforward approach.

Sub CleanText1()
    Dim rngCell As Range
    Dim intChar As Integer
    Dim strCheckString As String
    Dim strCheckChar As String
    Dim intCheckChar As Integer
    Dim strClean As String

    For Each rngCell In Selection
        strCheckString = rngCell.Value
        strClean = ""

        For intChar = 1 To Len(strCheckString)
            strCheckChar = Mid(strCheckString, intChar, 1)
            intCheckChar = Asc(strCheckChar)
            Select Case intCheckChar
                Case 65 To 90      'upper case chars
                    'Do nothing
                Case 97 To 122     'lower case chars
                    'Do nothing
                Case 128 To 151    'special language chars
                    'Do nothing
                Case 153 To 154    'special language chars
                    'Do nothing
                Case 159 To 165    'special language chars
                    'Do nothing
                Case Else
                    strClean = strClean & strCheckChar
            End Select
        Next intChar
        rngCell.Value = strClean
    Next rngCell
End Sub

The nice thing about this approach to stripping out the characters is that you can easily get rid of other characters by simply modifying what is checked (and what actions are taken) in the Select Case structure.

If you don't want to modify the original cells, a good approach is to put together a user-defined function that will return a "clean" version of a string. This can be achieved by making a few modifications to the previous macro.

Function CleanText2(ByVal sRaw As String) As String
    Dim intChar As Integer
    Dim strCheckString As String
    Dim strCheckChar As String
    Dim intCheckChar As Integer
    Dim strClean As String

    Application.Volatile
    strClean = ""
    For intChar = 1 To Len(sRaw)
        strCheckChar = Mid(sRaw, intChar, 1)
        intCheckChar = Asc(strCheckChar)
        Select Case intCheckChar
            Case 65 To 90      'upper case chars
                'Do nothing
            Case 97 To 122     'lower case chars
                'Do nothing
            Case 128 To 151    'special language chars
                'Do nothing
            Case 153 To 154    'special language chars
                'Do nothing
            Case 159 To 165    'special language chars
                'Do nothing
            Case Else
                strClean = strClean & strCheckChar
        End Select
    Next intChar
    CleanText2 = strClean
End Function

In order to use the function, you could put a formula such as the following in a cell:

=CleanText2(A1)

The result is that the formula returns a "clean" version of whatever is in cell A1 without disturbing the contents of cell A1.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9011) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Getting Rid of Alphabetic Characters.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Printing a Font List

Getting a list of fonts available in a document is not something you can easily do in Word. That is, unless you put the macro ...

Discover More

Saving a Preview with Your Template

Templates provide a collection of styles and boilerplate for new documents. Selecting the right template by filename only may ...

Discover More

Adding Columns to Your Page Layout

Most documents are created using a single column of text. Word, however, allows you to use many, many columns in your ...

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Hiding Macros

Need to hide some macros in your workbook? There are three ways you can do it, as covered in this discussion.

Discover More

Selecting Columns in VBA when Cells are Merged

If you have a macro that selects different columns in a worksheet while processing information, you may get some undesired ...

Discover More

Inserting Worksheet Values with a Macro

Macros are often used to process information in a worksheet. You may need your macro to change the values stored in cells; ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is nine minus 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.