Excel New Text Functions

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Excel New Text Functions

Complicated text formulas using either ampersands and the CONCATENATE function are the bane of our life. Not any more! Excel new text functions will really help us nail those text formulas. In this article we’ll be looking at the CONCAT function and the TEXTJOIN function. We’ll also examine the TEXT function, which is an oldie but a goodie as it’s crucial when you need to format dates or numbers in your formulas.

Old Method

This is the old method. We have the entries “Bill” in cell B3 and “Ben” in cell C3. We want to join them together to return the result “Bill and Ben”. We’ll use a formula because the entries might change and we still want the concatenation to work.

You can use either the ampersand (&), which is the concatenation operator, or the CONCATENATE function. Which one you use is your call.

Using the Operator

Put the formula together in easy stages. The first job is to join the two values together, like this:


This returns the result, “BillBen”. Not quite finished as we still need to have the word “and” and its associated spaces between “Bill” and “Ben”. Just edit the formula and include the plain text “ and ” into the concatenation. Like this:

=B3&” and “&C3

Join the values together
Completed concatenation formula

Plain text constants must be enclosed in quotation marks. Notice that the leading and trailing spaces required are included in the text.

Using the CONCATENATE function

The first job is to join the two values together, like this:


And then include the “ and ”, like this:

=CONCATENATE(B3,” and “,C3)

Same formula using the CONCATENATE function

Not too difficult and there’s not much to choose between the two methods. The main disadvantage is that you may not use a range reference so when you need to join a range of multiple cell values together you have to reference each cell in the range individually.

CONCAT Function

This is the first new text function to examine. It’s just like CONCATENATE, only much better because It supports range references as well as cell references and constants. The CONCAT function automatically ignores empty cells. Many people have been saying “Concat” for years instead of “Concatenate” as it’s much less of a mouthful. Now we’ll never have to say it again.

We need to join the cell values in the range B3:D3. The formula is:


Which returns: “BillTedBen”

If cell D3 is empty, the formula =CONCAT(B3:E3) still returns: “BillTedBen”.

CONCAT formula for a range of cells
CONCAT ignores empty cells

But CONCAT does not give you a way of including a delimiter, like a comma, between the values. For that you need the TEXTJOIN function…


TEXTJOIN can do everything CONCAT can do but it’s so much better because it also lets you control delimiters and empty cells. This works wonders when you’re preparing data for CSV format.

TEXTJOIN has three required arguments:

  1. Delimiter is the text to use between the values. It must be enclosed in quotation marks. For no delimiter, enter an empty string (“”).
  2. Ignore_empty is either TRUE or FALSE. TRUE to ignore entries with no content.
  3. Text1 is the first value to join together. This can be a cell reference, a range reference or a text constant.

In this example we have a range of cells to join but ones of the values is missing. Our formula is


and returns: “Bill,Ted,,Ben”

FALSE to include a comma as a placeholder for the missing value

In the next example, we have four columns: First Name (column B), Middle Name (column C), Last Name (column D) and Title (column E). We need to join them together, separated by spaces and with the title entry coming first.

The formula is:


A range reference joins the data together in the same order as it is in the range. Because we needed the Title to come first, two text arguments were required. E3 for the Title and B3:D3 for the continuous range containing the three names.

TEXTJOIN formula with space separators

TEXT Function

This is a great function that’s been around for years. You really need this one when you have dates or numbers in your concatenation formula which you need to format. Dates in particular. And you’ll need an appreciation of basic Excel date and number format codes. The function works like this:

=FORMAT(value, format_text)

Value is what you are formatting and format_text is the number format code in quotation marks.

Here’s an example. We want to have a heading in our worksheet that reads “Report dated ” – and then include today’s date on the end. My first attempt was this:

=”Report dated “&TODAY()

Nice idea but no coconut! That date appears as a date serial value. You can have a date in a cell and then format the cell as a date. But the date is in the formula, so you must apply the format in the formula using the TEXT function:

=”Report dated “&TEXT(TODAY(),”d mmmm yyyy”)

Follow the link below if you’re not sure about Excel number format codes. The TEXT function supports Custom codes.

The first attempt
Formula including the date format
The completed formula

To get the best out of Excel formulas you’ll need to have a good, working knowledge of Excel functions. Come along on our dedicated Excel functions course and discover what Excel formulas can do for you.

Call 020 7920 9500 now for details.

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