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How to Remove Leading or Trailing Spaces from a Data Set

Leading and trailing spaces in a data set are like termites in your house. If you don’t realize they are there and you don’t get rid of them, they’re going to wreak havoc.

keyboardHere are a few easy ways to remove these pesky characters with Minitab Statistical Software prior to analysis.

Data Import

If you’re importing data from Excel, a text file, or some other file type:

  1. Choose File > Open and select your Excel file, text file, etc.
  2. Click Options and select Remove nonprintable characters and extra spaces.
  3. Click OK.

Note: This feature was introduced in Minitab 17.3. If you have an older version of Minitab 17, use Help > Check for Updates. If you have Minitab 16 or earlier—or you don't have Minitab at all—you can download a free 30-day trial.

The Calculator

Suppose you already have your data in Minitab, located in column C1:

  1. Choose Calc > Calculator.
  2. In Store result in variable, enter a blank column (e.g. C5), or you can overwrite an existing column.
  3. In Expression, enter TRIM(C1).
  4. Click OK.

If you also want to remove all non-printable characters using the Calculator, CLEAN is available as well.

Calculator

And that’s all there is to it.

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