Excel at hyphen removal

BY J. CARLTON COLLINS

Q: I have an Excel worksheet containing hundreds of Social Security numbers, and I want to remove the hyphens. Can you tell me how this can be done?

A: I can think of two ways to remove hyphens from Social Security numbers in Excel.

Find and Replace method. Select the data containing the Social Security numbers, then from the Home tab’s Editing group, click on Find & Select and select Replace. Enter a hyphen in the Find what text box and leave the Replace with text box blank. Click the Replace All button. ( Note: It is possible that your Social Security numbers don’t contain hyphens. Instead they may contain “em” or “en” dashes, but most computer keyboards (especially on laptops) lack those symbols. If this is the case, highlight a cell containing a Social Security number, press the F2 key to enter edit mode, then highlight one of the em or en dashes and press Ctrl+C to copy. Then, when using the Find and Replace method described above, alter the instructions as follows: Instead of entering a hyphen, select the Find what text box and press Ctrl+V to paste an em or en dash into that field.)

Formula methods. You can remove unwanted hyphens using the Substitute function, or a combination of the Left, Mid, and Right functions; both solutions are illustrated in column C in the screenshot below.

(If necessary, use the trick described in option 1 above to copy and paste em or en dashes into your Excel formulas as needed.)

SPONSORED REPORT

Revenue recognition: A complex effort

Implementing the new standard requires careful judgment. Learn how to make significant accounting judgments and document them and collaborate with peers for consistent application.

VIDEO

How to Excel pivot a general ledger

The general ledger is a vast historical data archive of your company's financial activities, including revenue, expenses, adjustments, and account balances. J. Carlton Collins, CPA, shows how to prepare data for, and mine data with, PivotTables.

QUIZ

News quiz: Taking an economic snapshot and looking to the future

Recent news included IRS actions that affect individuals and partnerships and a possibly influential move by a Big Four accounting firm.Take this short quiz to see how much you know about the news.