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How To Capitalize the First Letter in Excel Spreadsheet Cells

Posted by Matthew on August 9, 2017

Although Excel is primarily a spreadsheet application for numerical data, you will often need to enter text in cells. Any spreadsheet table will need to have column or row headers. As such, Excel users will occasionally need to modify the casing of text within their spreadsheets. Of course, you could just do that by manually editing cell content with the keyboard. However, Excel also includes a few functions that you can adjust the text case with.

How to Change Case in Excel

Excel has three main functions that you can adjust text case in cells with. The functions that change case are UPPER, LOWER and PROPER. UPPER converts the text to uppercase, LOWER converts it to lowercase and PROPER capitalizes the first letter of each word in a cell.

To get an idea of how you can add these functions to cells, open a blank Excel spreadsheet. Enter ‘tech junkie’ in cell A2. Then select cell B2, and enter ‘=UPPER(A2)’ in the fx bar. That will convert the text in A2 to TECH JUNKIE in cell B2 as shown directly below.

Now click cell C2, and enter ‘=LOWER(B2)’ in the fx bar. That will convert the text in B2 to lowercase when you press the Enter key. Thus, it converts TECH JUNKIE to lowercase as shown below.

Next, select cell D2 to include the PROPER function. Input ‘=PROPER(C2)’ in the function bar, and then press the Enter key. That will convert the text in C2 to Tech Junkie in D2 as shown below. Thus, the PROPER function capitalizes each word in the text string.

Note that you don’t need to include cell references within those functions. You can instead enter the text directly into the function. For example, select cell E2 and enter ‘=PROPER(“tech junkie”)’ in the fx bar as shown below. That will modify the casing of the text string included within the function.

Capitalize only the first letters in spreadsheet cells

Excel’s primary functions for editing the case of text are PROPER, UPPER and LOWER. However, none of those uppercase just the first letter in an Excel spreadsheet cell. Nevertheless, you can still add a formula to an Excel spreadsheet cell that capitalizes just the first letter of a text string.

As an example, enter ‘this is a TEXT string example’ in cell A4 of your Excel spreadsheet. Then select the cell B4 in your spreadsheet. Enter the following formula in the fx bar: =REPLACE(LOWER(A4),1,1,UPPER(LEFT(A4,1))). Press the Enter key to add the formula to spreadsheet. Cell B4 will now edit the text to ‘This is a text string example’ as shown in the snapshot directly below.

The formula entered ensures that only the first letter of the text string is the upper case. You can modify text in any cell with the formula by adjusting the cell references in brackets. So if the text was in D11, you would replace A4 with the cell reference D11.

You can also enter text strings directly into the formula instead of cell references. For example, select cell C4 and then input ‘=REPLACE(LOWER(“this is a TEXT string example”),1,1,UPPER(LEFT(“this is a TEXT string example”,1)))’ in the function bar. C4 will also edit the text string in the formula much the same as B4 as shown in the snapshot below.

Edit Text Case with Kutools for Excel

Excel doesn’t include a Change Case tool to edit text with. That would be handy addition to the application, and you can add a Change Case tool to Excel with Kutools. Kutools for Excel is an add-on that expands the application with many extra tools. You can try out a 60-day trail of Kutools, and the add-on is retailing at $39.00 on the ExtendOffice site.

With Kutools added to Excel, you can open a Change Case tool. First, select the cell range that includes the text to edit. Then you can click a Kutools tab, press the Text button and select Change Case from the menu to open a Change Case dialog box.

The Change Case dialog box includes a Sentence case option that will capitalize only the first letter of a text string much the same as the REPLACE formula. So select the Sentence case option on the Change Case dialog box. A preview on the right of the window shows you how the option will edit the selected cell content. Click Apply and OK to confirm the selected option.

That’s how you can capitalize the first letter in an Excel spreadsheet cell with the REPLACE formula and the Change Case tool in Kutools. You can also capitalize the first cell letter with the CONCATENATE formula as shown in this YouTube video.

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