Data validation is a powerful feature in Excel. We can use it to control how a string begins with. Using the EXACT and LEFT function with data validation, we can control how a value begins with. In this tutorial, we will learn how to validate the start of a value in Excel.

*Figure 1. Example of how Data Validation Must Begin with in Excel*

**Generic Formula**

`=EXACT(LEFT(value,k),begin_with)`

**How the Formula Works**

We can control how a cell value begins with data validation. The formula uses the EXACT and LEFT functions. The LEFT function extract the first k characters from the value.

Then, the EXACT function compares this text to the text provided into the formula. EXACT uses a case-sensitive approach in the comparison. EXACT returns TRUE when the two text strings match. If the match fails, Otherwise the validation fails and EXACT returns FALSE.

**Setting up Data**

The following contains an student information database. We will fill these up. Column A, B and C will have the name, id and classes.

To restrict the ids to begin with “Bk”, we need to:

- Go to cell
**B2**. Select cells**B2 to B6**by clicking on B2 and dragging it till B6 with our mouse. - Go to
**Data> Data Validation**. We need to click the settings tab.

* Figure 2. Setting the Data Validation Rule*

- Next, we have to click on the drop down on the
**Allow**box. - Here, we select
**Custom**and in the**formula**box write the formula**=EXACT(LEFT(B2,2),”Bk”).**

* Figure 3. Applying the Formula to Data Validation*

- Finally, we need to click
**OK**.

This will only allow texts that start with “Bk” in column B. .

* Figure 4. Error Message with Data Validation*

Excel will show an error if we start the ids with anything other than “BK”.

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