3 Ways to Replace Spaces Between Characters in Excel Text Strings
by Avantix Learning Team | Updated October 20, 2021
Applies to: Microsoft® Excel® 2013, 2016, 2019, 2021 and 365 (Windows)
In Excel, you can replace spaces in text strings with underscores, dashes or other values using Find and Replace, by creating a formula or by using Flash Fill.
Recommended article: How to Delete Blank Rows in Excel (5 Fast Ways to Remove Empty Rows)
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1. Replacing spaces using Find and Replace
To replace spaces using Find and Replace:
- Select the range of cells containing text strings that include spaces you want to replace.
- Press Ctrl + H to display the Find and Replace dialog box. You can also click the Home tab in the Ribbon and select Replace in the Find & Select group.
- In the Find what box, type a space.
- In the Replace with box, type an underscore, dash, or other value. If you want to replace the space with nothing, leave the box blank.
- Click Replace All. A dialog box appears indicating the number of replacements.
- Click OK.
Below is the Find and Replace dialog box in Excel to replace spaces with underscores:
2. Replacing spaces using a formula
You can also create a formula and use the SUBSTITUTE function to replace spaces in text strings.
The Excel syntax for the SUBSTITUTE function is:
=SUBSTITUTE(text, old_text, new_text, [instance_number])
The text is typically a reference to a cell. The old text is the text you want to replace. The new text is the text you use as a replacement. Instance number is optional.
The simple syntax of the SUBSTITUTE function is:
=SUBSTITUTE(cell containing the data you want to replace, the value you want to remove, the value you want to use as a replacement, instance if required)
Text must appear in quotation marks or double quotes.
For example, if you want to replace spaces with underscores in cell B1 based on a text string in A1, the formula would be:
If you need to remove leading and trailing spaces, you can combine the SUBTITUTE function with the TRIM function as follows:
To convert the formula to text, simply copy and paste the formula as values.
3. Replacing spaces using Flash Fill
If you have Excel 2013 or later, you can also try using Flash Fill to replace spaces. Because Flash Fill needs to see a pattern to the left, you will likely need to enter several examples before running Flash Fill.
To change spaces to underscores or other values:
- Click in a cell to the right of the cell with the spaces you want to replace.
- Enter the same entry as the original cell with underscores instead of spaces and press Enter.
- Repeat for the next 3 or 4 cells below the first cell.
- In the cell below the last entry, press Ctrl + E to run Flash Fill.
Be sure to check the entries generated by Flash Fill.
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