Microsoft, Microsoft Excel

How to Remove Dashes in Excel

Working with Excel data can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to cleaning and formatting large datasets. One of the most common data cleaning tasks is removing unwanted characters such as dashes. Fortunately, Excel provides multiple methods to remove dashes from cells, allowing for easy data cleaning and formatting. In this article, we’ll guide you through these methods and show you how to remove dashes in Excel.

If you’re new to Excel, don’t worry! This guide is beginner-friendly and easy-to-follow. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to remove dashes from Excel cells quickly and efficiently.

Before we proceed, let’s discuss why removing dashes in Excel cells is essential. Dashes can make data difficult to read and analyze, especially when you need to perform calculations or create charts. Moreover, some functions in Excel may not work correctly if dashes are present in cells. By removing dashes from Excel cells, you can improve the quality and usability of your data.

Now, let’s dive into the methods for removing dashes in Excel cells.

Method 1: Using the SUBSTITUTE Function

If you’re looking to remove the dash symbol in Excel, the SUBSTITUTE function is an easy-to-use tool that allows you to replace characters in a specified range of cells. Here’s how you can use the SUBSTITUTE function to remove dashes:

  1. Select the range of cells where you want to remove dashes.
  2. Click the Find & Replace button under the Home tab.
  3. Select the Replace tab.
  4. In the Find what input box, type the dash symbol (-).
  5. In the Replace with input box, you can either type a character to replace the dash symbol with or leave it blank to remove it entirely.
  6. Click the Replace All button.
  7. Verify that the correct number of replacements were made in the Results window.
  8. Click Close to exit the Find & Replace dialog box.

The SUBSTITUTE function can also be used to replace other unwanted symbols in Excel, making it a versatile tool for data cleaning.

Method 2: Using the Replace Function

If the SUBSTITUTE function is not suitable for your task, you can use the Replace function in Excel to remove dashes from Excel columns or the entire sheet. This method is especially useful if you want to remove other unwanted symbols in addition to dashes.

To remove dashes using the Replace function:

  1. Select the range of cells or columns that you want to modify.
  2. Press Ctrl + H or go to Home > Editing > Replace.
  3. In the Find what field, type the dash symbol (-).
  4. If you want to remove the dash entirely, leave the Replace with field blank. If you want to replace it with another character, enter the character in the field.
  5. Click Replace All.

The Replace function will automatically modify the selected range of cells or columns, removing the dashes or replacing them with the designated character.

Using the Replace function can save time and effort, especially when dealing with large datasets with multiple unwanted symbols. With just a few clicks, you can easily remove dashes from Excel columns, enhancing the readability and reliability of your data.

Method 3: Using Flash Fill

If you need to remove dashes from phone numbers in an Excel dataset, Flash Fill is a quick and easy solution. This powerful tool automatically detects patterns in your data and formats it accordingly.

To use Flash Fill for removing dashes in phone numbers, follow these simple steps:

  1. Enter the cleaned phone number in the adjacent column, using the first few rows as an example.
  2. Select the first cell of the new column, and click on the Flash Fill button in the Data tab, or press Ctrl + E to activate the Flash Fill function.
  3. Excel will automatically fill in the rest of the column with the cleaned phone numbers.

Flash Fill can also be used to separate phone numbers into different columns, or to format any kind of data automatically. With Flash Fill, data cleaning and formatting can be accomplished with just a few clicks, saving you time and effort.

Using Flash Fill in Excel makes removing dashes from phone numbers and other data a breeze. With its powerful auto-formatting capabilities, you can quickly and easily clean and format your data, improving its quality and usability.


Cleaning up your Excel data is essential for improving the quality and usability of your datasets. Removing unwanted characters and symbols, such as dashes, can help ensure accurate analysis and reporting.

By utilizing the methods discussed in this article, you can easily remove dashes and other unwanted characters from your Excel cells. Using the SUBSTITUTE function, Replace function, or Flash Fill can save you time and effort, allowing you to focus on analyzing your data.

Remember, data cleaning in Excel is not a one-time task. It is an ongoing process that requires attention to detail and consistency. By taking the time to clean your data, you can avoid errors and make better-informed decisions.

So, next time you open an Excel sheet, take a few moments to review it for unwanted characters. Your efforts will pay off in the long run, leading to improved data quality and more reliable results.


How do I remove dashes in Excel?

There are several methods you can use to remove dashes in Excel, including the SUBSTITUTE function, the Replace function, and Flash Fill. These methods allow you to replace or remove dashes from specific cells or columns, improving the formatting and usability of your Excel data.

What is the SUBSTITUTE function in Excel?

The SUBSTITUTE function in Excel allows you to replace specific text within a cell with different text. By using this function, you can easily replace dashes with another character or remove them entirely from your selected range of cells.

How do I use the Replace function to remove dashes in Excel?

The Replace function in Excel allows you to replace specific characters or symbols within a cell or a range of cells. To remove dashes using this function, you need to specify the dash symbol you want to replace and leave the replacement text empty. This will effectively remove the dashes from your selected cells.

What is Flash Fill in Excel?

Flash Fill is a powerful feature in Excel that automatically detects patterns in your data and fills in values accordingly. By using Flash Fill, you can quickly remove dashes from phone numbers by simply providing an example of the desired format. Excel will automatically recognize the pattern and apply it to the entire dataset.

Why is it important to remove dashes in Excel?

Removing dashes in Excel is essential for maintaining accurate and reliable datasets. Dashes can interfere with data analysis, sorting, and visualization. By removing them, you improve the quality and usability of your data, making it easier to work with and draw meaningful insights.

How can I improve data quality in Excel?

Removing unwanted characters, such as dashes, is just one way to improve data quality in Excel. Other techniques include validating data, removing duplicates, correcting errors, and ensuring proper formatting. By following these best practices, you can enhance the reliability and usability of your Excel data.

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