Replacing Tildes at the Beginning of a Cell

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 27, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Karen has a large number of cells that have a tilde character (~) at the beginning of the cells. She would like to change the tilde to a different character (such as an @ sign), but only if the tilde is at the beginning of the cell. She's not sure how to perform this task using Find and Replace.

Excel's Find and Replace would be a good choice if you wanted to replace all tildes in your text. In that case, you would simply search for ~~ (note that this is two tildes in a row) and replace with @. However, since you want to replace just a tilde appearing in the first character position, Find and Replace won't do it for you. There are two ways you can approach the problem.

The first method is to use a formula to remove the tilde. There are many variations on such a formula, with the following being one example:

=IF(LEFT(A1,1)="~","@" & MID(A1,2,LEN(A1)),A1)

You can copy the formula down as many cells as you need, then copy the results and use Paste Special to paste the values back into the original column.

The other option is to use a macro to do the replacement. The following is a good example of a short macro to do the trick:

Sub ReplaceTilde()
    Dim c As Range
    For Each c In Selection
        If Left(c, 1) = "~" Then
            c.Value = "@" & Right(c, Len(c) - 1)
        End If
    Next
End Sub

To use the macro, simply select the cells you want to change and then run it. Each cell in the selection is evaluated and, if appropriate, modified.

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 (13419) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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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