Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007 and 2010. 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: Inserting Dashes between Letters and Numbers.

Inserting Dashes between Letters and Numbers

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 6, 2016)

6

Let's say you have a worksheet with lots of product codes in column A. These codes are in the format A4, B12, AD4, etc. Due to a change in the way your company operates, you are directed to change all the product codes so they contain a dash between the letters and the numbers.

There are several ways you can perform this task. If the structure of your product codes is consistent, then inserting the dashes is a snap. For instance, if there will always be a single letter followed by numbers, then you could use a formula such as this:

=LEFT(A1,1) & "-" & RIGHT(A1,LEN(A1)-1)

Chances are good that your data won't be structured, meaning you could have one or two letters followed by up to three digits. Thus, both A4 and QD284 would both be valid product codes. In this case, a solution formula takes a bit more creativity.

One way to handle it is with an array formula. Consider the following formula:

=REPLACE(A1,MATCH(FALSE,ISERROR(1*MID(A1,ROW(INDIRECT("1:100")),1)),0),0,"-")

If values are in A1-A10, you can put this formula into B1, and then copy it down the column. Since it is an array formula, it must be entered by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Enter. The formula finds the location of the first number in the cell and inserts a dash before it.

Assume, for the sake of example, that cell A1 contains BR27. The innermost part of the formula, INDIRECT("1:100"), converts the text 1:100 to a range. This is used so that inserting or deleting rows does not affect the formula. The next part of the formula, ROW(INDIRECT("1:100")), essentially creates an array of the values 1-100: 1,2,3,...,99,100. This is used to act on each character in the cell.

The next part, MID(A1,ROW(INDIRECT("1:100")),1), refers to each individual character in the string. This results in the array: "B", "R", "2", and "7". Multiplying the array by 1 (the next part of the formula) results in each of the individual characters being converted to a number. If the character is not a number, this conversion yields an error. In the case of the string being converted (BR27), this results in: #VALUE, #VALUE, 2, and 7.

The next step is to apply the ISERROR function to the results of the multiplication. This converts the errors to TRUE and the non-errors to FALSE, yielding TRUE, TRUE, FALSE, and FALSE. The MATCH function looks in the array of TRUE and FALSE values for an exact match of FALSE. In this example, the MATCH function returns the number 3, since the first FALSE value is in the third position of the array. At this point, we essentially know the location of the first number in the cell.

The final function is REPLACE, which is used to actually insert the dash into the source string, beginning at the third character.

As you can tell, the formula to perform the transformation can be a bit daunting to decipher. For those so inclined, it may be easier to just create a user-defined function. The following macro is an example of one that will return a string with the dash in the proper place:

Function DashIn(myText As String)
    Dim i As Integer
    Dim myCharCode As Integer
    Dim myLength As Integer

    Application.Volatile
    myLength = Len(myText)
    For i = 1 To myLength
        myCharCode = Asc(Mid(myText, i, 1))
        If myCharCode >= 48 And myCharCode <= 57 Then
            Exit For
        End If
    Next i
    If i = 1 Or i > myLength Then
        DashIn = myText
    Else
        DashIn = Left(myText, i - 1) & "-" _
          & Mid(myText, i, myLength - 1)
    End If
End Function

The macro examines each character in the original string, and when it finds the first numeric character, it inserts a dash at that point. You would use the function in this way:

=DashIn(A1)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10182) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Inserting Dashes between Letters and Numbers.

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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Comments

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What is 7 - 0?

2014-12-23 15:51:13

Susan Tsutsumi

I Think I'm inching close: How can I do this in Word?


2013-12-18 11:57:02

Willy Vanhaelen

Instead of those complicated formulas, I prefer a user defined function. Here is a much shorter one:

Function DashIn(myText As String)
Dim i As Integer
For i = 2 To Len(myText)
If IsNumeric(Mid(myText, i, 1)) Then
myText = Left(myText, i - 1) & "-" & Mid(myText, i)
Exit For
End If
Next i
DashIn = myText
End Function


2013-12-16 13:33:04

gerdami

Much more easy to do with regular expressions.
Go to http://www.codedawn.com/excel-add-ins.php and install RegEx Find/Replace.

With the product codes in column A,
type =RegExReplace(A1,"([a-zA-Z]+)([0-9]+)","$1-$2") in cell B1, and copy down the formula.

The search field:
([a-zA-Z]+) is first "token", i.e. one or many letters.
([0-9]+) is the second toke, i.e. one or many digits.

The replace field indicates that token $1 is concatenated to "-", then to the token $2.


2013-12-16 12:24:04

TSpeake

In Excel 2013, the new Flash Fill feature does what is requested virtually automatically. It even handles the case where there are different numbers of letters, i.e., A4, BR16, P33, etc.

Make sure you have uniquely formatted column headers. Select the cell next to the first data entry, and type "A-4". Now, on the Data tab, in the Data Tools group, click on the Flash Fill icon. The second column will contain "BR-16", "P-33", etc.

As Arthur C. Clarke said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

See the tutorials that come with Help on Flash Fill.


2013-12-16 08:29:10

Michael (Micky) Avidan

The first suggested formula can be much shorter - something like:

=REPLACE(A1,2,,"-")

Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2014)
ISRAEL


2013-04-20 10:40:55

WRosocha

I am thankful for the macro code. I will leave the array formula for Excel Ph.D.'s working on a post Doc.

In the macro, using the Boolean function IsNumeric(sChar) will simplify the test for a numeric character. It returns TRUE if sChar is a character that can be converted to a numeric.

If IsNumeric (Mid(myText, i, 1)) Then...



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