Counting characters in Google Sheets cells is a valuable skill for many spreadsheet users. Whether you need to track the length of text entries, meet character limits, or analyze text data, knowing the number of characters in a cell is key. Luckily, Google Sheets includes a simple built-in function to count characters and return the total per cell.

In this beginner’s guide, you’ll learn how to use the LEN function in Google Sheets to count characters in a cell easily. We’ll cover what the LEN function is, how to construct the basic LEN formula, and how to apply it to count characters in individual cells or ranges in your spreadsheets.

With a simple function, you can quickly get the character count in Google Sheets cells without installing extra add-ons or tools.

## What is the LEN Function?

The LEN function is a built-in function in Google Sheets that allows you to count characters in a cell in Google Sheets.

More specifically, LEN counts the number of characters in a text string and returns the character count as a number. A “string” refers to any combination of letters, numbers, or other keyboard characters entered in a cell.

The syntax for the LEN function is simple:

**=LEN(text)**

Where “text” is the cell reference or text string enclosed in quotes that you want to count characters for.

For example, if cell A1 contains the text “Hello,” the formula =LEN(A1) would return the number 5 since “Hello” contains 5 characters.

**Note: **The LEN function counts all characters, including spaces, punctuation, symbols, and other special characters. The only exception is that LEN does not count line-break characters inside a cell.

To put things simply, LEN is a handy way to count characters in a cell in Google Sheets. For avid spreadsheet enthusiasts, knowing the number of characters in cells can help with data validation, analyzing text length over sheets, and more.

## Sample Spreadsheet

Want to follow along with today’s tutorial on how to count characters in a cell in Google Sheets? Copy our sample sheet via the link below.

## Counting Characters in Cells with Google Sheets – Practical Example

Having explained the basics of how to count characters in a cell in Google Sheets and explained what the LEN function is, it’s time we get hands-on.

In this section, we will show you how to leverage the LEN function to count characters in Google Sheets.

To demonstrate real-world uses of LEN for character counts, we’ll use the following sample data set in a Google Sheet:

With our sample data now neatly put together, let’s review the steps to count characters in a cell in Google Sheets using the LEN function.

**Step 1: Choose an Empty Cell**

Start by choosing a blank cell in your spreadsheet. This is where you want the result of the character count to be displayed. For this example, we will choose cell B2.

**Step 2: Enter the LEN formula**

Having chosen a blank cell in your spreadsheet where you want the character count result to be displayed, head to the formula bar and type in the following formula:

**=LEN(A2)**

**Step 3: Hit Enter**

After entering the LEN formula like we showed you in step 2, all you need to do is press the Enter button on your keyboard, and Google Sheets will generate the character count result in the selected cell.

Here is what ours looks like:

If you look closely at the screenshot above, you’ll see that we have been able to use the LEN function to count the number of characters in cell A2. That was super easy, wasn’t it?

**Step 4: Generate Character Count Results for other Cells**

From the example we just covered, you can see that we only generated character count results for cells A2. Now, let’s do the same for the other cells.

But instead of doing it manually, we will leverage the Google Sheets auto-fill feature to simplify the entire process.

If you don’t know how that works, the video below provides better insight.

**Note: **When using the LEN function, it’s important to note that it counts ALL characters in a cell. This includes spaces between words or extra spaces at the beginning or end of a text string.

For someone new to LEN, this can be confusing at first. You may think LEN only tallies the visible letters and numbers. But spaces are valid keyboard characters, so LEN counts those, too.

For example, look at the following cell value:

**“The – Great Gatsby”**

At first glance, it appears there are only 18 characters. However, if we use the LEN formula on this cell, we actually get back a total of 20 characters.

Those extra 2 characters counted by LEN are the leading and trailing spaces before and after the text. So again, keep in mind that LEN literally counts every single character you can type on a keyboard, including spaces.

## Removing Spaces with the TRIM Function

Earlier, we discussed how the LEN function counts all character types, including space characters. While helpful to understand, those extra spaces can make your true character count inaccurate.

Thankfully, Google Sheets gives us a handy TRIM function to easily remove extra spaces before counting with LEN.

The TRIM function takes a cell value or text string as input, strips out any extra spaces at the beginning or end, and outputs a “trimmed” result.

You can then take this trimmed text without excess spaces and get an updated character count using LEN.

That said, let’s apply the TRIM function along with LEN to get the actual character counts of our data set.

We will use the sample data we used for the previous example to demonstrate how the Trim function works.

**Step 1: Choose an Empty Cell**

As we did in the previous example, we need to choose an empty cell in our spreadsheet where we want the true character count result to be generated. For this example, let’s use cell B2.

**Step 2 Enter the LEN and TRIM formula.**

Now, head over to the formula bar and type the following formula:

**=LEN(TRIM(A2))**

**Step 3: Press Enter**

With the LEN and TRIM formulas entered correctly, tap the Enter button on your keyboard. You should get the correct character count in the selected cell.

Here is what ours looks like:

The screenshot above shows that we got the correct character count using the TRIM function. So, if you want to get the correct character count for a cell in Google Sheets, you won’t be disappointed to use the TRIM function.

## Final Thoughts on Counting Characters in Google Sheets

After walking through practical step-by-step examples of using Google Sheets’ built-in LEN and TRIM functions to count characters in a cell in Google Sheets, you should have a solid grasp on efficiently tallying character counts in your spreadsheet projects.

As a quick recap, you now know:

- The LEN function counts total characters, including spaces and special symbols
- TRIM allows stripping spaces for accurate counts with LEN
- Rows or columns of character counts can be auto-filled to save time

Hopefully, this beginner’s guide has shown how wonderfully simple it is to count characters in a cell Google Sheet cells with Google’s own no-cost formulas. No more manual tallying or installing complex character counter add-ons.

The entire process, from setup to executing character counting formulas, takes only minutes. So leverage these Google Sheet abilities in your own work to unlock new text-based insights or enforce length limits with ease.