Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Determining the Length of a String.

Determining the Length of a String

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 7, 2017)


It is hard to imagine a function used more often with strings than the Len function. This simple little function returns the length of any string. The following are a few examples:

A = Len(MyString)
B = Len("This is a test")

The first line returns the length of the characters in the variable MyString. The second returns the number of characters between the quote marks (in this case, 14—remember that spaces count as characters).

If you want to determine the length of the information in a particular cell, you follow a bit different approach:

C = Len(ActiveSheet.Range(ActiveWindow.Selection.Address))

When this line is executed, it returns the length of whatever is in the currently selected cell.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12404) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Determining the Length of a String.

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 six more than 8?

2017-01-09 22:43:17


The statement as shown in the tip is a fully qualified cell location within a workbook..specifically the actual currently selected cell.

You could use a similar statement to reference a cell on another sheet in the same workbook, or even a cell in another workbook so long as the file path was a constant...but I don't have the syntax handy to share.( ie, an external reference)

2017-01-07 19:13:50

Bob Beechey

To reveal the number of characters in active cell (string or not) you could use:
C = Len(ActiveCell.Text)

2017-01-07 17:51:18

John M

When I read the title of the tip, I didn't realize it was a VBA. For non VBA use, the LEN function works much the same way. For example "=LEN(D1)" (without the quotes) will return the length of the string in cell D1. This works with cells formatted as text or general.

2017-01-07 06:28:35

Alex B

Is the full specification,
an Excel 2016 requirement ?

In Excel 2010 with selection being A2 both,
c = len(activecell)
c = len(cells(2,1))
seem to work fine for me.

I hear that Excel 2016 gets a bit tricker with the allowing of multiple windows.

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