How to Count Characters in Excel 2013: A Step-by-Step Guide

Counting characters in Excel 2013 is a straightforward task that can be accomplished using the LEN function. The LEN function returns the number of characters in a text string, which includes letters, numbers, and symbols. After completing this action, you will know the exact character count of the data in your selected cell or range of cells.

After completing the character count, you will have a clear understanding of the length of your text data which could be essential for data analysis, content creation, or meeting specific formatting requirements.


Counting characters in Excel may seem like a trivial task, but it’s an essential skill for anyone who deals with data. Whether you’re a content creator keeping an eye on your character count for SEO purposes, a data analyst trying to determine the length of entries, or a social media manager aiming to fit into those tight character limits, knowing how to count characters quickly and efficiently can save you a lot of time and hassle.

Excel 2013, being a powerful tool, offers an easy way to count characters in cells. This functionality is particularly relevant for professions that require adherence to specific character counts. For example, Twitter posts have a character limit, and certain coding languages or software inputs require data to be within specific length constraints. Understanding how to count characters in Excel 2013 is a simple yet vital skill that can streamline your workflow and ensure accuracy in your data management.

Step by Step Tutorial: Counting Characters in Excel 2013

Before diving into the steps, it’s important to note that by following these directions, you will be able to count the characters in individual cells or a range of cells within your Excel spreadsheet.

Step 1: Open your Excel 2013 spreadsheet

Open the spreadsheet that contains the text you want to count characters in.

Opening your spreadsheet is the first step to any task in Excel. Ensure that the data you want to count characters in is accurately entered into the cells. If you’re working with a new spreadsheet, make sure to save your file to prevent any loss of data.

Step 2: Click on the cell where you want to display the character count

Select the cell where you wish the character count result to appear. This cell should be different from the cell containing the text.

Choosing the correct cell for your character count is crucial as it determines where your results will be displayed. Make sure this cell is empty to avoid overwriting any existing data.

Step 3: Type in the LEN function formula

In the selected cell, type =LEN(A1) and replace ‘A1’ with the cell reference that contains the text you want to count.

The LEN function is what makes counting characters possible in Excel. This formula calculates the number of characters in a cell and outputs the result. Ensure that you enter the correct cell reference for an accurate character count.

Step 4: Press Enter

After typing the formula, press Enter to execute the function and display the character count.

When you press Enter, Excel computes the number of characters in your specified cell and displays the result in the cell where you entered the formula. If you need to count characters in multiple cells, you can copy the formula and adjust the cell references accordingly.


AccuracyBy using the LEN function, you ensure an accurate count of characters that includes spaces and punctuation.
EfficiencyCounting characters manually can be time-consuming, especially for large datasets. The LEN function streamlines this process.
VersatilityThe LEN function can be used for single cells or ranges, and can also be combined with other functions for more complex tasks.

Accuracy is paramount when working with data in Excel. The LEN function ensures that every character is counted, including spaces and punctuation. This eliminates the potential for human error and provides you with precise information.

Efficiency is another key benefit of using the LEN function in Excel. Imagine having to count characters manually in a large dataset; it would be incredibly time-consuming and prone to errors. The LEN function does the job instantly, freeing up your time to focus on other tasks.

Versatility is one of Excel’s strengths, and the LEN function is no exception. It’s not limited to counting characters in a single cell; you can count characters across a range of cells, and even nest the LEN function within other functions to perform more complex operations.


Overlooking Non-Printable CharactersThe LEN function counts all characters, including non-printable ones, which might not be desired in certain situations.
Limited to Text CellsThe LEN function only works with text. It cannot count characters in cells that contain numbers or formulas unless they are formatted as text.
Misinterpretation of SpacesThe LEN function counts every single space as a character, which might lead to overestimating the actual number of meaningful characters.

One limitation of the LEN function is that it counts all characters, including non-printable ones. In some cases, you may not want these characters included in your count, leading to a discrepancy between the expected and actual count.

The LEN function is also limited to text cells. While this might not be a problem for most users, if you’re working with numbers or formulas that you want to count as text, you’ll need to format them as text first, which adds an extra step to the process.

Furthermore, the LEN function treats every space as a character. This can be misleading if you’re trying to get a count of only the ‘meaningful’ characters, as spaces may inflate the count.

Additional Information

When working with Excel 2013, counting characters is not the only text-related function you might need. Excel offers a variety of functions that can enhance your text data management. For instance, the CONCATENATE function allows you to combine text from different cells, the TRIM function helps remove extra spaces, and the SUBSTITUTE function can replace specific characters within your text.

An important tip to remember is that the LEN function also includes line breaks as characters. So, if you’re counting characters in a cell that includes text from multiple lines, each line break will add to your count. Additionally, if you’re dealing with a dataset where you need to count characters in multiple cells, you can utilize the AutoSum feature to sum up the total character count.

Remember, when using the LEN function for counting characters in Excel 2013, consider the context of your data and the purpose of your character count to ensure that the function meets your needs.


  1. Open your Excel 2013 spreadsheet
  2. Click on the cell where you want to display the character count
  3. Type in the LEN function formula
  4. Press Enter

Frequently Asked Questions

Can the LEN function count characters in a range of cells?

Yes, the LEN function can be adapted to count characters in a range of cells by using additional functions such as SUM or an array formula.

Does the LEN function count spaces as characters?

Yes, the LEN function counts every single space in the text as a character.

Can the LEN function count characters in a cell with a formula?

The LEN function counts the characters in the resulting text of a formula. If the cell contains a formula, it will not count the characters in the formula itself, but in the resulting text that the formula generates.

Is there a limit to the number of characters the LEN function can count?

No, there is no specified limit to the number of characters the LEN function can count in Excel 2013.

Can I count characters in multiple non-adjacent cells at once?

Yes, you can count characters in multiple non-adjacent cells by using the LEN function in combination with other functions such as SUMPRODUCT.


Counting characters in Excel 2013 is a breeze once you get the hang of using the LEN function. Whether you’re looking to stay within certain character limits, perform data analysis, or just organize your text data more effectively, this simple function can do wonders. It’s quick, efficient, and accurate—everything you need when working with text in Excel.

Remember, while the LEN function has its limitations, its benefits often outweigh the drawbacks. With this knowledge in hand, you’re well-equipped to tackle any task that involves character counting in Excel 2013.

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