Sign in with Microsoft
Sign in or create an account.
Select a different account.
You have multiple accounts
Choose the account you want to sign in with.

This article describes the formula syntax and usage of the LEFT and LEFTB  function in Microsoft Excel.


LEFT returns the first character or characters in a text string, based on the number of characters you specify.

LEFTB returns the first character or characters in a text string, based on the number of bytes you specify.


  • These functions may not be available in all languages.

  • LEFTB counts 2 bytes per character only when a DBCS language is set as the default language. Otherwise LEFTB behaves the same as LEFT, counting 1 byte per character.

The languages that support DBCS include Japanese, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), and Korean.


LEFT(text, [num_chars])

LEFTB(text, [num_bytes])

The function syntax has the following arguments:

  • Text    Required. The text string that contains the characters you want to extract.

  • Num_chars    Optional. Specifies the number of characters you want LEFT to extract.

    • Num_chars must be greater than or equal to zero.

    • If num_chars is greater than the length of text, LEFT returns all of text.

    • If num_chars is omitted, it is assumed to be 1.

  • Num_bytes     Optional. Specifies the number of characters you want LEFTB to extract, based on bytes.


Copy the example data in the following table, and paste it in cell A1 of a new Excel worksheet. For formulas to show results, select them, press F2, and then press Enter. If you need to, you can adjust the column widths to see all the data.


Sale Price






First four characters in the first string



First character in the second string


Need more help?

Want more options?

Explore subscription benefits, browse training courses, learn how to secure your device, and more.

Communities help you ask and answer questions, give feedback, and hear from experts with rich knowledge.

Was this information helpful?

What affected your experience?
By pressing submit, your feedback will be used to improve Microsoft products and services. Your IT admin will be able to collect this data. Privacy Statement.

Thank you for your feedback!