How to Remove Leading Spaces in Excel 2016: A Step-by-Step Guide

Removing leading spaces in Excel 2016 can be a bit tricky, but it’s totally doable with a few simple steps. You don’t need to be a wizard with formulas or a coding expert to get it done. Just follow this quick overview and you’ll be on your way to a cleaner spreadsheet in no time.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Remove Leading Spaces in Excel 2016

Before diving into the steps, let’s understand what we’re about to do. Excel has a function called TRIM that can remove all extra spaces from text except for single spaces between words. This includes those pesky leading spaces that can throw off your data organization. Let’s get started.

Step 1: Select the cells you want to clean up

Click and drag to highlight the cells that have leading spaces you want to get rid of.

Selecting the right cells is crucial because the TRIM function will only affect the cells you highlight. Make sure you’ve got them all selected before moving on to the next step.

Step 2: Open the Find and Replace dialog box

Press Ctrl + H on your keyboard to open the Find and Replace dialog box.

This handy tool is usually used for finding and replacing text, but it’s also where the magic happens for removing leading spaces.

Step 3: Enter the TRIM formula

In the “Find what” field, leave it blank, and in the “Replace with” field, enter: =TRIM(A1) but replace A1 with the reference of the first cell in your selection.

By entering the TRIM formula, you’re telling Excel to replace the leading spaces with… well, nothing. It’s like telling those spaces to hit the road and not come back.

Step 4: Click “Replace All”

After entering the TRIM formula, click “Replace All” to remove all leading spaces from your selected cells.

And just like that, all those unwanted spaces are gone. Your data should now be neat and tidy, with each entry starting right at the edge of the cell.

Step 5: Copy the cleaned cells

Now, select the cells again, right-click, choose ‘Copy’ or press Ctrl + C on your keyboard.

You’re almost there. Copying these cells will allow you to paste the cleaned-up content back into your spreadsheet without the leading spaces.

Step 6: Paste the cleaned cells as values

Right-click on the first cell of your selection and choose ‘Paste Special’ then select ‘Values’ and click ‘OK’.

This final step ensures that you don’t just paste the formula but the actual clean, space-free text. Now your data not only looks cleaner but also is more manageable for further processing.

After completing these steps, your Excel 2016 sheet will be free of any leading spaces, making your data look neater and more professional. This not only improves the visual appeal but also prevents potential issues with data processing or analysis.

Tips: How to Remove Leading Spaces in Excel 2016

  • Always backup your Excel file before performing any find and replace actions. Better safe than sorry!
  • The TRIM function won’t remove single spaces between words—only the extra ones at the beginning and end.
  • If you have a lot of data, consider using the ‘Go To Special’ feature to select only cells with formulas before pasting as values.
  • Remember that the TRIM function doesn’t remove non-breaking spaces (ASCII 160), which are sometimes used in web data.
  • Use the ‘Text to Columns’ feature as an alternative method if you’re dealing with consistent spacing issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if TRIM doesn’t remove all spaces?

If TRIM doesn’t remove all spaces, you may be dealing with non-breaking spaces. In this case, you can use the SUBSTITUTE function to replace ASCII 160 with regular spaces and then apply TRIM.

Can I use TRIM on an entire column?

Yes, you can use TRIM on an entire column. Just double-click the fill handle of the cell where you’ve entered the TRIM formula, and it will copy the formula down the column.

Will TRIM affect spaces between words?

No, TRIM will not affect spaces between words. It only removes extra spaces at the beginning and end of the text.

What is the keyboard shortcut for Paste Special?

The keyboard shortcut for Paste Special is Ctrl + Alt + V, which will open the Paste Special dialog box.

Can I automate this process for future use?

Yes, you can record a macro while performing these steps and use it whenever you need to clean up your data in the future.


  1. Select the cells you want to clean up
  2. Open the Find and Replace dialog box
  3. Enter the TRIM formula
  4. Click “Replace All”
  5. Copy the cleaned cells
  6. Paste the cleaned cells as values


There you have it—a step-by-step guide to removing those annoying leading spaces in Excel 2016. It’s a simple process that can save you tons of time and frustration when dealing with messy data. Remember to use the TRIM function wisely and understand its limitations, like non-breaking spaces. With these tips and tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be an Excel pro in no time. So go ahead and give it a try on your spreadsheet. Happy trimming!

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