Abbreviate names or words

Learn how to abbreviate names or words using regular Excel functions or the ABBREVIATE user-defined function.

First, we will introduce the ABBREVIATE function; we will use a UDF to simplify and speed up the task. Then, in the second part of the article, we’ll apply a custom formula to abbreviate names containing capital letters.

Today’s tutorial is a part of our definitive guide on Excel Formulas.

Abbreviate names using the ABBREVIATE function

The ABBREVIATE function returns the abbreviation for the supplied string. User-defined functions provide huge advantages when you are working with string manipulation formulas.




The function uses one required argument; the cell reference.

In the example shown, the formula in D3 is:

formula example

To implement this user-defined function into your spreadsheet, do the following:

  • Use the Alt + F11 keyboard shortcut to open the VBA Editor
  • Right-click on the ThisWorkbook
  • Add a new module
  • Copy and insert the snippet
  • Save your workbook as a .xlsm file.

Here is the code:

Function Abbreviate(strC As String) As String

    Dim Company() As String   
    Dim i As Byte, j As Byte   
    Dim strAbbr As String

    Company() = Split(strC, " ")
    i = UBound(Company())  

    If i > 0 Then               
        For j = 0 To i

            strAbbr = strAbbr & UCase(Left(Company(j), 1))
        Next j
        strAbbr = strC  
    End If
    Abbreviate = strAbbr
End Function

The next example below will use an advanced formula to extract the initials from names or create acronyms.

To speed up your work, download our DataFX add-in to expand Excel’s built-in library with user-defined functions.

Generic Formula to Abbreviate names

Let us see how to check when a cell contains specific text using a simple combination of regular excel functions. It looks a bit complex, but try to use it if you are a function geek.

Abbreviate names or words using regular formulas


  • The INDIRECT function has a parameter: numbers between 65 to 90. This range corresponds to the ASCII codes for all capital letters between A-Z.
  • We use MID, ROW, INDIRECT, and LEN functions to convert a string to letters.
  • TEXTJOIN will concatenate the extracted letters into one word.

Special requirement before applying the formula: The source text must include capitalized words.

Istvan Vozar

Istvan is the co-founder of Visual Analytics. He helps people reach the top in Excel.