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5 Tricks to Master Substrings in Google Sheets

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Google Sheets is one of the widely used tools by various teams and companies. Since its inception, it has become a go-to tool for various businesses to store, manage and visualize business data for day to day activities and easy access in the future as well.  

The spreadsheet is a bit catchphrase among businesses in managing data over the internet and sharing across connections for inputs or feedback. Not to mention, Google Sheets also provide a more collaborative and comprehensive approach to efficient spreadsheet administration. Additionally, it is very much similar to excel.

However, one thing which differentiates Google Sheets from Excel is the Substrings. Don’t worry, Google Sheets provides a couple of functions to get the job done. Here are some tips and tricks for using substrings in Google Sheets hassle-freely. 

Google Sheets Guide to Understanding Substrings

First thing first, what exactly is a Substring?

Simply put, a substring is a segment of a string and a string is a combination of cells. Substring manipulates all string data types and extracts characters from it to create a new string. The majority of the time, when we discuss strings, we are referring to text strings like “Say Hi.” However, they can also be numerical. The example’s substrings may include:

  • Say
  • Hi
  • S
  • Ay H

Any other permutation or combination can be taken from the given text within that entire string. Moreover, worksheets can be made simpler, and matching data can be identified by extracting substrings.

How to Extract a Substring from Google Sheets?

Here are the top methods for using substrings in the Google Sheets:

Tip 1: LEFT Function

Return Substring from the starting/origination of String

Method- #return first 4 characters of a string in cell A1

=LEFT(A1, 4)

Use the LEFT function to return the first character or a specified number of characters from the left of a given text string.

Things to Know!

  • Text is the key here. This text will be used as the source for the returned substring. For this, you can use a constant literal or a cell reference.
  • The num_chars argument is optional. This indicates how many characters should be returned from the text string’s left side.
  • The default value is 1 in the absence of num_chars. This leads to the return of one character from the left.
  • It is necessary to have more than 1 num_chars. If it exceeds the total length of the text, it returns the complete text string.

Tip 2: MID Function

Return Substring from Middle of String

Method- #return 4 characters of a string in cell A1 starting at position 2

=MID(A1, 2, 4)

The MID function can be used to extract the substring by providing the text string, the starting character, and the desired number of characters to return.

Tip 3: RIGHT Function

Return Substring from End of String

Method- #return the last 4 characters of a string in cell A1

=RIGHT(A1, 4)

The substring from the rightmost portion of the text string is returned by the RIGHT function. 

The above mentioned are the primary techniques for using substrings in Google sheets. However, there are some alternate combinations as well to extract substrings effortlessly.

Other ways to get Substrings

  • LEFT, SEARCH Function

Return Substring Before a Specific Text


Method- #return all text before the string “there” in cell A1

=LEFT(A1, SEARCH(“there”, A1)-1)

  • RIGHT, SEARCH Function

Return Substring After a Specific Text

Method- #return all text after the string “there” in cell A1

=RIGHT(A1, SEARCH(“there”, A1)-1)

With the help of these methods, you can manipulate Substrings and cells to derive results and make an impeccable presentation of data for business needs. 

Besides, if you want to know how to find a Substring in a string, you can do so by adding ISNUMBER Function along with MID or Right Function. For pulling a Substring, you can utilize an add-on such Google Sheets Power tool.

Hope this tutorial provided valuable information to gain better insights on how to use Substrings for performing business operations smoothly. If you’re looking to dive deep into the world of Google Sheets, check out Spreadsheet Daddy for more Google Sheets guides.