Microsoft Excel TRIM Function Tutorial

Since 1998

Microsoft Excel TRIM Function Tutorial

Excel Function Tutorial

The TRIM Function trims leading and trailing edge spaces from a piece of text that you specify and also eliminates anything but single spacing between words. One of the most important functions to know about if you are comparing worksheet data or doing lookups in worksheet data.

What is the Microsoft Excel TRIM Function?

The TRIM function is a computer program that you run from a worksheet cell formula. It trims leading and trailing edge spaces from a piece of text that you specify and also eliminates anything but single spacing between words. You run the TRIM function by typing its name in a formula then followed by the information it is suppose to use. The TRIM worksheet function is generally used to clean text of extra spacing so functions like the VLOOKUP and COUNTIF can search for the proper text. Leading and trailing edge spaces are the leading cause of formula errors on worksheets when trying to lookup text information with functions. Remember if you are searching for the text "Rep1" and it is "Rep1  " on the worksheet, the search will fail. The TRIM worksheet function is used as part of a data cleaning strategy on the worksheet especially for data coming from databases that have inconsistent text entries.

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

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

=TRIM(text)

Where text is 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 1 argument for the TRIM function when typing it in a worksheet cell formula in order for it to calculate correctly. What argument value can be used is 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.

TRIM Worksheet Function Argument Definitions

How Do You Run the TRIM Function?

Since the TRIM 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 TRIM Function Argument?

When typing the TRIM function in a worksheet cell formula, you need to replace the text argument with something that generates text. Some typical arguments you can use are:

Argument Type Cell Formula Example Explanation
Cell Reference = TRIM( A1 ) TRIM removes the leading and trailing edge spaces plus any extra spaces between the words from the characters in cell A1
Range Reference = TRIM( A1:A10 ) TRIM removes the leading and trailing edge spaces plus any extra spaces between the words from the characters in the range A1 to A10 and returns an array
Cell and Range Names = TRIM( Reps ) TRIM removes the leading and trailing edge spaces plus any extra spaces between the words from the characters referenced by the cell name Reps *

* 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 TRIM Function Examples

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

A B C
1 Smith, David = TRIM( A1 ) Very simple formula that removes non-printable ASCII characters from text in cell A1.
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