Combining Cell Contents

At the heart of Excel is the ability to add formulas to worksheets. You use these formulas to manipulate information stored in different cells. One of the ways you can manipulate information is to combine the contents of your cells. For instance, let’s assume you have a list of last names in column A, a list of first names in column B, and a list of titles (Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.) in column C. If you wanted to derive a full name for these people, you could use the following formula:

=CONCATENATE(C4, " ", B4, " ", A4)

The result of such a formula is that Excel combines the values (the names and titles) from the specified cells and places spaces between them.

If I am remembering my spreadsheet history correctly, the CONCATENATE function was originally included in Excel for compatability with other spreadsheet programs-most notably Lotus 123. Personally, I prefer to use what I’ve always viewed as the native concatenation operator for Excel, which is the ampersand. Here’s how you could write the same concatenation formula mentioned above:

=C4 & " " & B4 & " " & A4

The ampersand character (&) is used to indicate that Excel should “add” text together to create a new text value.