Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 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: Replacing Characters at the End of a Cell.

Replacing Characters at the End of a Cell

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 5, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


Sam has a large number of addresses in a worksheet. In those addresses he needs to make sure that all compass directions (NE, SE, NW, and SW) are all uppercase. It would be very helpful if Sam could figure out how to change any of these lowercase (or mixed case) directions that appear only at the end of a cell with their uppercase counterparts. He can't just search for a space followed by "ne", as that would change Newton to NEwton, so he wonders how he can make sure that the replacement occurs only when the letters appear at the end of a cell.

There is no way to accomplish this task using the Find and Replace tools in Excel. That means that you need to use a formula or a macro to do the task. Formulas can be used to make sure that the last two characters of a cell are uppercase:

=LEFT(A1,LEN(A1)-2) & UPPER(RIGHT(A1,2))

The problem with such a formula, however, is that it is non-discriminating. As long as any cell it is used on has a compass direction as its last two characters, there is no problem. But if some cells don't have the compass direction, then you run into problems real fast. In that case you need to actually have the formula check the last characters:

=IF(RIGHT(A1,3)=" ne", LEFT(A1,LEN(A1)-2) & "NE",
IF(RIGHT(A1,3)=" se", LEFT(A1,LEN(A1)-2) & "SE",
IF(RIGHT(A1,3)=" nw", LEFT(A1,LEN(A1)-2) & "NW",
IF(RIGHT(A1,3)=" sw", LEFT(A1,LEN(A1)-2) & "SW", A1))))

This formula checks the last three characters to see if there is a space followed by either ne, se, nw, or sw. If this is the case, then those last two characters are made uppercase. The formula can be shortened if you approach it differently:

=IF(OR(RIGHT(A1,3)=" ne", RIGHT(A1,3)=" se", RIGHT(A1,3)=" nw",
RIGHT(A1,3)=" sw"), LEFT(A1,LEN(A1)-2) & UPPER(RIGHT(A1,2)), A1)

You can shorten it even more by using an array of compass directions in the formula:

=IF(OR(RIGHT(A1,3)={" ne"," se"," sw"," nw"}),
LEFT(A1,LEN(A1)-2) & UPPER(RIGHT(A1,2)), A1)

If you prefer to not use a formula, you can easily create a macro that will do the checking and conversion for you:

Sub CapDirections()
    For Each RCell In Selection
        CText = UCase(Right(RCell.Value, 3))
        If CText = " NE" Or CText = " SE" _
          Or CText = " SW" Or CText = " NW" Then
            RCell.Value = Left(RCell.Value, _
              Len(RCell.Value) - 3) + CText
        End If
End Sub

To use the macro, just select the cells containing the addresses, and then run it. It checks to see if one of the four compass points are at the end of the cell value, and if it is then it makes sure that the compass direction is uppercase.

You should note that these solutions are based upon there only being four possible compass directions in your addresses. If your addresses have more wide-ranging compass directions (like N or SSE) then you will definitely want to use a macro-based solution because the checking quickly becomes very complex for a formula.


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 (9746) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Replacing Characters at the End of a Cell.

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 nine minus 3?

2023-04-19 10:37:56

J. Woolley

Re. RTrim, LTrim, and Trim discussed in earlier comments below, My Excel Toolbox now includes the following functions useful in cell formulas:
TrimHead trims leading characters from Text and returns the result. If optional NumChars < 1 (default), all leading space characters are trimmed; otherwise, NumChars leading text characters are trimmed.
TrimTail is analogous except it trims trailing characters.
Here are abbreviated versions:

Function TrimHead(Text As String, Optional NumChars As Integer) As String
    If NumChars < 1 Then
        TrimHead = LTrim(Text)
        TrimHead = Mid(Text, (NumChars + 1))
    End If
End Function

Function TrimTail(Text As String, Optional NumChars As Integer) As String
    If NumChars < 1 Then
        TrimTail = RTrim(Text)
        Dim n As Integer
        n = Len(Text) - NumChars
        If n > 0 Then TrimTail = Left(Text, n) 'else return null default
    End If
End Function


2023-04-14 10:18:33

J. Woolley

@Willy Vanhaelen
I forgot about RTrim. I should have used it. Thank you for reminding me.
Curiously, RTrim and Trim are difficult to find alphabetically in Microsoft's VBA documents because they are listed with LTrim (i.e., "LTrim, RTrim, and Trim").

2023-04-13 13:13:28

Willy Vanhaelen

@J. Woolley
Your macro is a well thought out work piece. I wonder though if you have a special reason to use a Do While Loop to remove trailing spaces (if any) instead of the RTrim function?

Adding the .SpecialCells(xlCellTypeConstants, xlTextValues) to Selection in my macro would make it more robust .

@Peter Atherton
Adding C = RTrim(C) would also make my macro more robust.

2023-04-10 11:11:51

J. Woolley

Willy's version is very clever. Here is my version. It's a little more robust and accommodates hyphenated directions like N-E.
For all text constants in Selection, capitalize the last word after deleting any hyphens if it represents one of 16 points on the compass:

Sub CapDirections3()
    Dim rCell As Range, sComp() As String, sText As String, sTemp As String
    Dim nChar As Integer, n As Integer
    For Each rCell In Selection.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeConstants, xlTextValues)
        sText = rCell.Value
        Do While Right(sText, 1) = " "
            sText = Left(sText, (Len(sText) - 1))
        nChar = InStrRev(sText, " ")
        sTemp = UCase(Replace(Mid(sText, (nChar + 1)), "-", ""))
        For n = 0 To 15
            If sTemp = sComp(n) Then
                rCell.Value = Left(sText, nChar) + sTemp
                Exit For
            End If
        Next n
    Next rCell
End Sub

2023-04-10 06:00:56

Peter Atherton

Willy, Nice one but I'd add a line to deal with Allen's point about typos

For Each C In Selection
C = Trim(C)

2023-04-09 14:04:52

Willy Vanhaelen

The macro in this tip does a fine job but my version hereafter uses a different approach and is a bit simpler:

Sub CapDirections2()
Dim C As Range
For Each C In Selection
    If InStr(" ne se sw nw", Right(C, 3)) Then
        C = Replace(C, Right(C, 2), UCase(Right(C, 2)))
    End If
Next C
End Sub

The code is almost self explanatory:

IF the 3 last characters in the cell are found in the string being searched THEN
    Replace the utmost 2 characters of the cell by there upper case ones

That's it :-)

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