Removing unwanted characters in Excel

How to remove special characters in Excel 2016, 2013-2007

Remove special (non-printing) characters, numeric, text, or custom symbols

When you download a large database into Excel there can be thousands of unwanted characters to be removed like carriage returns or non-printing characters. Text Toolkit for Excel will go through your list and delete all unwanted characters according to the settings you select.

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This tool helps you remove custom characters and character sets in Excel by position, or delete all their occurrences in the selected cells. Easily clear all letters, digits, non-printing characters, and punctuation marks. It's also possible to enter and remove a substring from your range.

  1. Run the Remove Characters tool by clicking the Remove icon under Ablebits Data tab in Excel. Open Remove unwanted characters section by clicking on the arrows
  2. Depending on the way you want to clear your cells of unwanted characters, expand either Remove characters or substrings or Remove characters by position group.

Remove unwanted characters or substrings

  1. First select the cells that contain the values you want to delete. You will see the range address at the top of the pane. Expand the group Remove characters or substrings
  2. Choose the option that meets your needs:
    • Remove custom characters. This option will remove any entered character in Excel. If you have several symbols that you need to cut out from your range and you don't want to repeat this routine operation, just enter each character you need to eliminate into the Remove custom characters field, the add-in will delete all its instances in the selected cells.
    • Remove character sets. There are several sets of symbols you can pick from the drop-down list:
      • Non-printing characters - delete all non-printing characters like line breaks, the first 32 nonprinting characters in the 7-bit ASCII code (values 0 through 31), and additional nonprinting characters (values 127, 129, 141, 143, 144, and 157);
      • Text characters - delete all letters from your cells;
      • Numeric characters - delete all digits from the selected range;
      • Symbols and punctuation marks - this option removes all punctuation marks from the cells as well as the following symbols: mathematical, geometric, technical and currency symbols, letter-like symbols such as ?,1, and ™.
    • Remove a substring. Delete any combination of characters, e.g. a word, from the selected cells.
  3. Click the Remove button to enjoy quick results.

Remove characters by position

The Remove Characters tool will help you delete characters depending on their location in the selected cells. You can get rid of the first or last characters, remove everything before or after certain text.
  1. To remove characters by position, select the range in Excel that contains the values you want to delete. You will see its address at the top of the add-in pane. Expand the group Remove characters by position
  2. Select the radio button with the option that suits your task:
    • The first N characters. This option lets you delete any number of characters at the beginning of the selected cells in Excel.
    • The last N characters. Remove any number of characters at the end of the cells in your range.
    • All characters before text. Delete any values in Excel before the specified character or string in the range you select.
    • All characters after text. Remove everything after the specified character or string in the selected cells.
  3. Press the Remove button to see the results.

Thus you can clean your data in Excel and remove all kinds of symbols from unwanted or forbidden characters to non-printing characters and line breaks.

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