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Excel Tutorial: how to count and extract a number of characters in a string starting from a specified position

example-1)To extract a number of characters starting from a specified position, the Excel function MID comes into good use.

Syntax: MID(text, start_number, number_of_characters) where:

  • text is the string(cell# in our case) containing the characters to be extracted,
  • start number = the position of the first character
  • number of characters = number of characters

for example: =MID(A2,3,7) means that starting from the character in position#3(third charcter), get the next 7(seven) characters.


  • the character in position#3 is counted as the first of 7 to be extracted,
  • any space/s between the names(in Column-A) is counted as a character.


Results from Column-C show that 7(seven) characters, starting from character#3 are extracted - space between names inclusive.

Results in Column-B are from our first tutorial:


example-2) Suppose all we need is to count the number of characters, we use the LEN(length) function.

Syntax: LEN(string)

formula: = LEN(A2). See below:

char length


Problem to solve:

If we put the above concepts together, let us assume we have a sample problem to solve as follows:

Statement: extract 3-characters where the starting character position is 5-less than the number of characters in each row of Column-A.

Solution: the start_number of the MID function will be the length(LEN) of data in each cell minus-5.

command: =MID(A2,(LEN(A2)-5),3)


Results in Column-E show for ex: "nde" where "n" is the 12th character(17-5) of cell A2

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