Microsoft Excel RIGHT Function Tutorial

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Microsoft Excel RIGHT Function Tutorial

Excel Function Tutorial

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The RIGHT Function returns n characters starting from the end of a piece of text in a worksheet cell and moving left. It is used heavily when parsing data into pieces and returning specific parts.

What is the Microsoft Excel RIGHT Function?

The RIGHT function is a computer program that you run from a worksheet cell formula. It returns n characters starting from the end of a piece of text and moving left. The number of characters returned from the right-hand side is based on the number of characters you specify. You run the RIGHT function by typing its name in a formula then followed by the information it is suppose to parse (separate). The RIGHT function is generally used to separate some sub set of text like states, zip codes, ID, names... from a piece of text. For example, if you have a worksheet with 2 character codes embedded on the right hand-side of its text and you wanted to extract those codes, then you would use the RIGHT function. Reversing your thinking, the RIGHT worksheet function can also be used to remove unwanted text say everything before the 4 ending characters is garbage and unwanted. So RIGHT would be used in this instance as a removal tool instead, it is just how you think of the problem. This is often called data cleaning or data mining.

How Do You Type the RIGHT Worksheet Function in a Formula?

Whenever you type a formula in a worksheet cell, this is called syntax or grammar. The general RIGHT function syntax has a format like this when you type it in a worksheet cell:


Where text, [num_chars] ..... are called the function argument list. Remember, you are running a computer program at this point so the program needs information to operate and that is why there is an argument list. When you see an argument list and you see square brackets [ ] around the argument name, this means the argument is optional and you do not have to include it when typing unless you need it. So for the syntax above, you need to include one argument for the RIGHT function when typing it in a worksheet cell formula in order for it to calculate correctly. What argument values can be used are discussed below. Remember functions expect certain things in their argument lists, if you do not put the correct information in the list they will generate an error when run.

RIGHT Worksheet Function Argument Definitions

How Do You Run the RIGHT Function?

Since the RIGHT function is a computer program, it runs when you press Enter to enter the formula that contains it. If any of the arguments are wrong, the function will return an error.

What Do I Type for a RIGHT Function Argument?

When typing the RIGHT function in a worksheet cell formula, you need to replace the argument list with arguments separating each one with a comma (arg1,arg2...). Some typical arguments you can use are:

Argument Type Cell Formula Example Explanation
Cell References = RIGHT( A1, 2 ) RIGHT extracts the last 2 characters from the text in cell A1
Range Reference = RIGHT( A1:A10, 2 ) RIGHT extracts the last 2 characters from the text in cells A1 to A10 and returns an array
Cell and Range Names = RIGHT( Code_Names, 4 ) RIGHT extracts the last 4 characters using the cell name Code_Names to obtain its text

* It is possible to name a cell or group of cells on a worksheet and use that name in place of a range reference or cell reference. Consult Excel help on how to name a cell.

Additional RIGHT Function Examples

The worksheet seen below contains some typical worksheet formulas that run the RIGHT worksheet function. Pay close attention to the argument list and the syntax used to write the formula.

1 CA-91362-11 = RIGHT( A1, 2 ) Returns 11 from the text in cell A1
  CA-91362-546 = RIGHT( A2, LEN( A2 ) - SEARCH( "-",A2, SEARCH("-", A2) + 1 ) ) Uses the LEN function to figure out how many characters are in cell A2 then subtracts the position of the second - found by SEARCH. The reason SEARCH is nested in the third argument position of the first Search function is to jump over the starting place of the first - so the second can be locked up. This formula automatically figures out how many characters are between the second - and the end without knowing the count.
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