How to Remove Dashes from SSN in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Removing dashes from Social Security Numbers (SSNs) in Excel is straightforward. By using a simple formula or a find-and-replace method, you’ll be able to clean up your data in no time. Here’s a quick way to do it: Use the SUBSTITUTE function to replace dashes with nothing, or use the Find and Replace feature to remove them in bulk. Let’s dive into the steps for both methods.

How to Remove Dashes from SSN in Excel

In this section, we’ll cover two distinct methods for removing dashes from SSNs in Excel. Whether you prefer using a formula or a built-in Excel feature, you’ll find straightforward steps to get your SSNs cleaned up.

Step 1: Open Your Excel File

First, open the Excel file that contains the SSNs you want to clean up.

Make sure the SSNs are all in one column so that the process is easier. If they are scattered, consider copying them into a single column.

Step 2: Identify the Column with SSNs

Take note of the column letter where your SSNs are located.

This makes it easier to reference the column in the next steps. For example, if the SSNs are in column A, you’ll use "A2" for the first SSN in your formula.

Step 3: Use the SUBSTITUTE Function

In a new column, enter the formula =SUBSTITUTE(A2, "-", "") where "A2" is the cell with the SSN.

This formula tells Excel to replace all dashes ("-") in the SSN with nothing (""). Drag the fill handle down to apply the formula to the rest of the column.

Step 4: Copy and Paste the Cleaned SSNs

Copy the cleaned SSNs from the new column and paste them over the original data using "Paste Values."

This ensures that you replace the original SSNs with the cleaned ones without keeping the formula.

Step 5: Use Find and Replace (Alternative Method)

Alternatively, you can use the Find and Replace feature. Highlight the column with SSNs, press Ctrl + H, type "-" in "Find what," and leave "Replace with" blank, then click "Replace All."

This method directly removes the dashes from the original SSNs without needing a new column.

After you complete these steps, your SSNs will be free of dashes, resulting in cleaner and more uniform data.

Tips for Removing Dashes from SSN in Excel

  1. Make a backup of your data before making any changes.
  2. Ensure that all SSNs are formatted consistently to avoid errors.
  3. Use conditional formatting to highlight cells where the formula might not apply correctly.
  4. Double-check a few SSNs manually to ensure the process worked.
  5. Use data validation to prevent entry of SSNs with dashes in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my SSNs are not in a single column?

You should first copy them into a single column to simplify the process.

Can I use these methods in Google Sheets?

Yes, both the SUBSTITUTE function and Find and Replace feature work in Google Sheets as well.

What if my SSNs have spaces or other characters?

You can adjust the SUBSTITUTE function to replace those characters by adding additional SUBSTITUTE functions.

How do I handle large datasets?

Using the SUBSTITUTE function or Find and Replace method works efficiently even for large datasets.

Will these methods work with other types of data?

Yes, the same techniques can be applied to remove unwanted characters from any type of data.


  1. Open Your Excel File
  2. Identify the Column with SSNs
  3. Use the SUBSTITUTE Function
  4. Copy and Paste the Cleaned SSNs
  5. Use Find and Replace (Alternative Method)


Cleaning up your data and removing those pesky dashes from SSNs in Excel is easier than you might think. By following the steps we’ve outlined, you can make sure your SSNs are formatted consistently and accurately. Whether you choose to use the SUBSTITUTE function or the Find and Replace method, you’ll achieve the same result quickly and efficiently. Remember to always back up your data before making any changes, and to double-check the cleaned data to ensure accuracy.

If you found these techniques helpful, consider exploring other data cleaning methods in Excel to further streamline your workflow. Keeping your data tidy not only makes it look better but also makes it easier to analyze and use. Happy data cleaning!

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