**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: Finding the First Non-Digit in a Text Value.

Tony has a bunch of data in a worksheet that consists of digits and other characters. For instance, he might have a cell that contains "1234567Blue." Tony wants to be able to figure out the character position at which the first non-digit character occurs. In the example of the text "1234567Blue" Tony wants some way to figure out that the first non-digit character is at position 8.

There are two primary ways to get the value you want. The first is to use an array formula to calculate the position. The following array formula (entered by using **Ctrl+Shift+Enter**) will work in the majority of cases:

=MATCH(TRUE,ISERROR(VALUE(MID(A1,ROW(INDIRECT("1:"&LEN(A1))),1))),0)

The only instances where this array formula won't work is if cell A1 is either empty or contains a strictly numeric value. If your list may contain this type of data (or no data at all), then you should consider using a slightly longer array formula:

=IF(LEN(A1)=0,0,MIN(IF(1*ISNUMBER(1*MID(A1,ROW(INDIRECT("A1:A"& LEN(A1))),1))=0,ROW(INDIRECT("A1:A"&LEN(A1))),LEN(A1)+1)))* (ISNUMBER(A1)=FALSE)

Remember that that is a single array formula, entered by using **Ctrl+Shift+Enter**. It will properly handle instances where A1 contains no non-digit characters (as in a blank cell or a value such as "123").

Another possible array formula that should return the desired position is the following. This one should handle empty cells and strictly numeric values just fine, but it is shorter than the previously presented array formula:

=IFERROR(MATCH(1,ISERR(MID(A1,ROW(INDIRECT("1:"&LEN(A1))),1)*1)*1,),)

Of course, the other way you can handle finding out the position of the first non-digit character is to create a user-defined function. There are many different ways that such a macro can be implemented. One of the easiest ways to implement the macro is to simply step through each character in whatever is passed to the macro. When a character is found that is outside the ASCII code range for digits (48 to 57), then you know you've found the first position. The following macro shows a way to do this type of technique:

Function FirstNonDigit(str As String) Dim iChar As Integer Dim iPos As Integer Dim J As Integer Application.Volatile iPos = 0 For J = 1 To Len(str) iChar = Asc(Mid(str, J, 1)) If iChar <= 47 Or iChar >= 58 Then iPos = J Exit For End If Next J FirstNonDigit = iPos End Function

To use the function, simply use a formula such as this in your worksheet:

=FirstNonDigit(A1)

If the cell you reference is empty or if it only contains digits, then the function returns a 0 value.

*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 (10610) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: **Finding the First Non-Digit in a Text Value**.

**Create Custom Apps with VBA!** Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out *Mastering VBA for Office 2013* today!

If you have a range of values that can be either positive or negative, you might wonder how to determine the largest ...

Discover MoreGiven a range of cells containing values, you may have a need to find the first value in the range that is unique. This ...

Discover MoreWhen Excel performs a calculation, the results you see in an unformatted cell may cause a bit of concern. This tip ...

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

2017-04-17 14:56:26

Dennis Costello

MID(A1, {1;2;3;4;5;6;7;8;9;10;11;12}, 1)

Because this is a single-cell array function, Excel will execute the call to MID for each of the 12 values in its second parameter, returning "1" the first time, "2" the second time, ..., and "B" the eighth time. The VALUE call will be 1, 2, etc. - but will trip over the letter and return a #VALUE there. The ISERROR call will return FALSE until it gets to the #VALUE error, and the MATCH will return the position of the first instance of TRUE in the array of values. I go into this detail here because no-one addressed Martin's question at the beginning of the thread.

But how to get the array of constants {1;2;...;n} - where n is the length of the string in the cell - and thus start this happy sequence of events? The original formula had ROW(INDIRECT("1:"&LEN(A1))) - where A1 has a 12-character string, this evaluates as

ROW(INDIRECT("1:12"))

ROW($1:$12)

{1;2;3;4;5;6;7;8;9;10;11;12}

But you could also use OFFSET. The formula would be:

{=MATCH(TRUE, ISERROR(VALUE(MID(A1, ROW(OFFSET(A$1, 0, 0, LEN($A$1), 1)), 1))), 0)}

Its successive evaluation is:

{=MATCH(TRUE, ISERROR(VALUE(MID(<cell>, ROW(OFFSET(A$1, 0, 0, LEN($A$1), 1)), 1))), 0)}

MATCH(TRUE, ISERROR(VALUE(MID("1234567Blue.", ROW(OFFSET(A$1, 0, 0, LEN($A$1), 1)), 1))), 0)

MATCH(TRUE, ISERROR(VALUE(MID("1234567Blue.", ROW(OFFSET(A$1, 0, 0, 12, 1)), 1))), 0)

MATCH(TRUE, ISERROR(VALUE(MID("1234567Blue.", ROW($A$1:$A$12), 1))), 0)

MATCH(TRUE, ISERROR(VALUE(MID("1234567Blue.", {1;2;3;4;5;6;7;8;9;10;11;12}, 1))), 0)

MATCH(TRUE, ISERROR(VALUE({"1"; "2"; "3"; "4"; "5"; "6"; "7"; "B"; "l"; "u"; "e"; "."})), 0)

MATCH(TRUE, ISERROR({1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; #VALUE!; #VALUE!; #VALUE!; #VALUE!; #VALUE!}), 0)

MATCH(TRUE, {FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; TRUE; TRUE; TRUE; TRUE; TRUE}, 0)

8

Note that it doesn't matter what cell you're testing (that's why I showed it as "<cell>"), but in both the INDIRECT and OFFSET formulae, it's essential that the Reference parameter of OFFSET be somewhere on row 1.

Note also that you could also accomplish the same thing using COLUMN instead of ROW, by jiggering the parameters of the OFFSET function; if you do, the Reference parameter of OFFSET needs to be in column A for the same sort of reason, but it wouldn't matter what row it was on.

This addresses Wyatt's original problem statement - finding the first non-digit. It thus would return 3 for the string "12.345" whereas one of the proposed UDFs would recognize the decimal point as part of a legitimate number.

If you want to go completely off the deep end, none of the UDFs proposed in the thread would interpret scientific notation, e.g., "+1.234E-05", as a number - or for that matter even a signed integer, without adding a good deal more sophistication (it's not enough to simply allow E + - and . as valid characters, as they're only allowed in certain places). You could go nuts trying to get the parsing right, but it would probably be simpler to let VBA try to interpret it as a number and then go into the RE matching only if it isn't.

2016-12-05 10:21:54

Rick Rothstein

Darn, one asterisk too many. Here is my corrected function...

Function FirstNonDigit(S As String)

Application.Volatile

FirstNonDigit = -Len(CStr(Val(S))) * (S Like "*[!0-9.]*") - (S Like "#*")

End Function

2016-12-05 10:15:56

Rick Rothstein

Actually, my function does not return the correct value for either integers or floating point numbers. I am not sure why, but I constructed my function to return the position of the last digit for the leading number, not the position of the first non-digit. Here is my corrected function to do that (still a one-liner... if we ignore the Application.Volatile that is)...

Function FirstNonDigit(S As String)

Application.Volatile

FirstNonDigit = -Len(CStr(Val(S))) * (S Like "*[!0-9.]*") - (S Like "*#*")

End Function

2016-12-04 13:40:45

Willy Vanhaelen

Your UDF is a nice one liner again but only yields a correct answer when the entry starts with a floating point number. For example 123P99 returns 3 instead of 4.

But counting a period as a digit may not necessarily be wanted. Such entrees are by definition always strings and I suppose will mostly refer to part codes and when they include a period, it can as well be the goal to detect that as the first non digit.

2016-11-27 00:22:22

Rick Rothstein

Also, I forgot to note that my function appears to work properly with floating point numbers as well as whole numbers... your function reports the location of the decimal point for floating point values.

2016-11-27 00:17:27

Rick Rothstein

Function FirstNonDigit(S As String)

Application.Volatile

FirstNonDigit = -Len(CStr(Val(S))) * (S Like "*[!0-9.]*")

End Function

2016-08-29 06:59:50

Ben Bol

This is very helpful. Searched a while on the net, found it here.

Thank you.

2015-08-29 09:37:14

Locke Garmin

Function SearchNonDigit(Source As String) As Long

With CreateObject("VBScript.Regexp")

.Pattern = "D"

On Error Resume Next

SearchNonDigit = .Execute(Source)(0).FirstIndex + 1

End With

End Function

If you remove the 'On Error Resume Next' it will produce a '#VALUE' result instead of '0', whichever you would prefer. :)

2015-08-29 08:02:17

Willy Vanhaelen

Here is a much shorter UDF that does the job equally well:

Function FirstNonDigit(str As String)

Dim J As Integer

For J = 1 To Len(str)

If Not IsNumeric(Mid(str, J, 1)) Then

FirstNonDigit = J

Exit For

End If

Next J

End Function

I left out Application.Volatile because it not necessary here and has the disadvantage that the function gets recalculated each time you enter something in the sheet even in a cell that is not referenced by the function. This applies also to INDIRECT used in the formulas in this tip.

2015-08-29 07:15:34

Martin Nicol

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.

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

Copyright © 2019 Sharon Parq Associates, Inc.

## Comments