**Convert column numbers to letters**

In this example, we want to input the column number in the first column of the table then allow the second column to show the corresponding Excel column letter. Letter **A** corresponds to the first column in an Excel worksheet, **B** to the second column, **C** to the third column, and so on.

*Figure 1. Convert column numbers to letters*

To convert a column number to an Excel column letter (*i.e*, **A**, **B**, **C**, etc.) we will make use a formula that utilizes the **ADDRESS** and **SUBSTITUTE** functions.

The general formula would be

*Figure 2. Convert column numbers to letters*

In our example, the formula in cell **C5** will be

*Figure 3. Convert column numbers to letters*

**Using the ADDRESS Function**

The **ADDRESS** function returns a text representation of a cell address. It is a built-in function in Excel that can be used as a look-up function. For example, the formula **=ADDRESS(1,1)** will return the value **$A$1**. The **ADDRESS** function can be entered as part of a formula or as a parameter within another function.

The first step is to generate an address that carries the column number. We will do this with the **ADDRESS** function, by providing **1** for row number (we can use any row number and this will be hard-coded, or fixed, in the formula), a column number from cell **B5**, and we will use **4** for the **abs_num** argument to get a relative reference to the cell address. Note that the four possible values for the **abs_num** argument are: **1** (or omitted) for absolute reference; **2** for absolute row and relative column reference; **3** for relative row and absolute column reference; and **4** for relative reference.

With the information provided, our **ADDRESS** function will return the text string “**A1**”. We will then use the **SUBSTITUTE** function to remove the number portion of the text and retain only the column letter.

*Figure 4. Convert column numbers to letters*

**Using the SUBSTITUTE Function**

The **SUBSTITUTE** function is used to replace specific parts of a text with another by means of matching. For example, the formula

will return**=SUBSTITUTE(“123-456-789”, “-”, “”)**** “123456789”** because we specify in the formula to replace every occurrence of **“-” **in the main text with the null string (“”), thereby removing the dashes. Note that the **SUBSTITUTE** function is case-sensitive.

As mentioned, we will use the **SUBSTITUTE** function to remove the number portion of the text cell address reference and retain only the column letter. Here is how it’s done: In all cases, we can confidently locate “1” and then replace it with the null string (“”)

i.e., `=`

. **SUBSTITUTE (“A1”,”1”,””)**

This is because the number on the row is hard-coded as “1” inside the **ADDRESS** function.

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