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: Cleaning Text.

Cleaning Text

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 15, 2024)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


2

Excel includes an interesting worksheet function whose duty it is to make sure that your text is "clean." By this, Excel means that your text contains only printable characters. Thus, the function removes certain non-printable characters and control codes from your text. The syntax is rather simple, as follows:

=CLEAN(text)

All you need to do is include the text, or a reference to a cell that contains text. In doing some testing, it appears that the function removes anything with an ANSI value of 1 through 31, as well as the values 129, 141, 143, 144, and 157.

So why would you use the CLEAN function? If you import information from some mainframe or on-line services, the non-printable codes could be interspersed in the information you receive. This can cause problems printing or viewing the information correctly. CLEAN can help rectify those problems.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10350) 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: Cleaning Text.

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

Adding Your Own Menu Items

Want to really make Excel reflect how you work? Why not make some changes to the menu structure so that the menus have ...

Discover More

Sorting for a Walking Tour

Want to sort addresses by even and odd numbers? By using a formula and doing a little sorting, Excel can return the ...

Discover More

Setting the Active Printer in VBA

Your macros can control where printed output is directed, but sometimes it can be difficult to get the settings correct. ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Exact Matches with DSUM

The DSUM function is very handy when you need to calculate a sum based on data that matches criteria you specify. If you ...

Discover More

Understanding the VLOOKUP Function

Functions are at the heart of Excel's power in working with data. One of the most misunderstood functions provided by ...

Discover More

Counting with Formulas

When you need to count a number of cells based upon a single criteria, the standard function to use is COUNTIF. This tip ...

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. 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 three less than 9?

2019-12-16 15:33:56

Roy

SPAM-much "Tom"?

Usually, people hook these messages at least a little to the Tip in question before going on a lot about the wonders of their SPAM item.


2019-12-14 13:00:47

Tom Cruckshank

I like to use a, free for private use, set of utilities called ASAP Utilities. These utilities will do so much! In the text section, you can select to remove leading, trailing or excessive spaces.

Recently I had some data that contained a raft of HTML tags scattered throughout the data. In the Web section, there is a command to remove these. Worked like a charm. Highly recommend that Excel users get these utilities.


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.