This article describes the formula syntax and usage of the SUBSTITUTE function in Microsoft Excel.


Substitutes new_text for old_text in a text string. Use SUBSTITUTE when you want to replace specific text in a text string; use REPLACE when you want to replace any text that occurs in a specific location in a text string.


SUBSTITUTE(text, old_text, new_text, [instance_num])

The SUBSTITUTE function syntax has the following arguments:

  • Text    Required. The text or the reference to a cell containing text for which you want to substitute characters.

  • Old_text    Required. The text you want to replace.

  • New_text    Required. The text you want to replace old_text with.

  • Instance_num    Optional. Specifies which occurrence of old_text you want to replace with new_text. If you specify instance_num, only that instance of old_text is replaced. Otherwise, every occurrence of old_text in text is changed to new_text.


Copy the example data in the following table, and paste it in cell A1 of a new Excel worksheet. For formulas to show results, select them, press F2, and then press Enter. If you need to, you can adjust the column widths to see all the data.


Sales Data


Quarter 1, 2008


Quarter 1, 2011



Description (Result)


=SUBSTITUTE(A2, "Sales", "Cost")

Substitutes Cost for Sales (Cost Data)

Cost Data

=SUBSTITUTE(A3, "1", "2", 1)

Substitutes first instance of "1" with "2" (Quarter 2, 2008)

Quarter 2, 2008

=SUBSTITUTE(A4, "1", "2", 3)

Substitutes third instance of "1" with "2" (Quarter 1, 2012)

Quarter 1, 2012

See Also


Ten ways to clean your data

TRIM function

Applies To: Excel 2016, Excel 2010, Excel Starter, Excel 2013, Excel Online, Excel 2016 for Mac, Excel for Mac 2011, Excel 2007

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