# LEFT Function in Excel: Explained

In this article, you will learn how to use the LEFT formula in Excel.

## What is the LEFT formula in Excel?

The LEFT formula in Excel extracts a specified number of characters from the beginning of a text string.

## When is the LEFT function useful in Excel?

The LEFT function in Excel is beneficial when you want to extract a specific portion of a text string. For example, you might use it to pull out the prefix of an ID number. It is also useful when extracting the first few characters of a text string to sort or filter the data. For example, you might use the LEFT function to extract the first letter of each word in a list of names to group them alphabetically. It can also be combined with other functions, such as the CONCATENATE function, to extract a specific portion of a text string and then combine it with another text string.

## How to use the LEFT formula in Excel

The general syntax for the formula is as follows:

The **"text"** argument is the text string you want to extract characters from, and the **"num_chars"** argument is the number of characters you want to extract, starting from the left. The formula will return the entire text string if the **"num_chars"** argument is omitted.

**Note: **The** “num_chars”** parameter must be equal to or larger than zero. When **“num_chars”** is larger than the length of a text string, the LEFT function returns the entire text string. If the **“num_chars”** argument is left blank, the formula considers that it is 1.

Look at the following examples to understand the LEFT function better.

Example:

In this example, B2 contains "apple tree," and the formula would return "app".

You can also use the LEFT function in a more complex formula, such as combining it with other functions, like CONCATENATE, to extract a specific portion of a text string and then combine it with another text string.

An example formula is as follows::

In this case, B4 contains "apple tree", and B5 contains "banana leaf". The formula would return "app-ban", as shown below in the picture.

Finally, note that the LEFT function is case-sensitive, as shown in the screenshot below. So, “liveflow” and “LiveFlow” are considered different by the LEFT function.

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