# Need a formula that looks at the first digit or letter in a cell

I have a column of numbers. Some begin with the digit 8 and the rest begin with other digits. I want to write a formula that will return "2" if the number in column A starts with 8, and "1" if the number in column A starts with a number other than 8.

Is this possible and if so, how please?

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Using a combination of the Left and If functions...

``````=IF(LEFT(A1,1) = "8", 2, 1)
``````

That's assuming you want to number returned as a number... if you want it as a string..

``````=IF(LEFT(A1,1) = "8", "2", "1")
``````
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This is fantastic! I've been searching all day for this. Can you please explain what the "1" after the A1 does? – Prebanks Mar 24 '11 at 18:25
@Prebanks it's the number of characters you want returned starting with the left-most character in the cell. The function syntax is `LEFT(text, number of characters)`. – Ian C. Mar 24 '11 at 18:29
Ian, thank you so much for your help. You've saved the day! – Prebanks Mar 24 '11 at 18:34
And Brett you too ~ thank you for your quick response! – Prebanks Mar 24 '11 at 18:35