Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Dissecting a String.

Dissecting a String

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 30, 2024)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


If you have used BASIC before, you will be right at home with the three major string functions provided by VBA. The following table details the most common string functions and what they return.

Function Comments
Left(Source, Count) Returns the left Count characters of Source text.
Mid(Source, Start [, Count]) Returns the portion of Source text beginning with the Start character. If Count is supplied, then the result is limited to that many characters.
Right(Source, Count) Returns the right Count characters of Source text.

Another function that is handy for dissecting strings is the Split function, which takes just a bit more explanation. This is the syntax for the function:

Split(Source, Delimit, Limit, Compare)

The function returns an array composed of "pieces" of the Source text. Each piece is defined by the presence of the Delimit within the Source. For instance, consider the following macro code:

Dim sPieces() As String
Dim sRaw As String

sRaw = "abcd-efg-hijklm-nopq"
sPieces = Split(sRaw,"-")

When you run the code, the sPieces array will consist of four elements, as follows:

sPieces(0) = "abcd"
sPieces(1) = "efg"
sPieces(2) = "hijklm"
sPieces(3) = "nopq"

The third and fourth parameters for Split are seldom used. Limit indicates the maximum number of array elements you want to return and Compare is used to indicate how you want the comparisons within Source to occur.

Remember that these are all VBA functions, not worksheet functions. Excel provides worksheet functions that do largely the same things, but those functions place different requirements on which parameters are required and which are optional.

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 (12574) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Dissecting 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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