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A to Z of Excel Functions: The LEFTB Function

13 September 2021

Welcome back to our regular A to Z of Excel Functions blog. Today we look at the LEFTB function.

The LEFTB function

The LEFTB function returns the first character or characters in a text string, based on the number of bytes specified.

The LEFTB function employs the following syntax to operate:

LEFTB(text, [number_of_bytes])

The LEFTB function has the following arguments:

  • text: this is required and represents the text string that contains the characters you want to extract
  • number_of_bytes: this argument is optional and specifies the number of characters you want LEFTB to extract, based upon bytes.

It should be further noted that:

  • number_of_bytes must be greater than or equal to zero
  • if number_of_bytes is omitted, it is assumed to be one (1)
  • this function may not be available in all languages.  LEFTB counts two (2) bytes per character only when a DBCS language is set as the default language (the languages that support DBCS include Japanese, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), and Korean
  • otherwise, LEFTB behaves the same as LEFT, counting one (1) byte per character.

For example, =LEFTB("中国香港",2) is equal to "".  LEFTB returns the first character only, because each character is counted as two (2) bytes.

However, =LEFT("中国香港",2) is equal to "中国" as LEFT returns the first two (2) characters, because each character is counted as one (1).  LEFT returns the first two characters no matter what the default language setting is on your computer.

We’ll continue our A to Z of Excel Functions soon.  Keep checking back – there’s a new blog post every business day.

A full page of the function articles can be found here.