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Remove leading and trailing whitespace from strings




strip is recommended over strtrim because it provides greater flexibility and allows vectorization. For additional information, see Alternative Functionality.

newStr = strtrim(str) removes leading and trailing whitespace characters from str and returns the result as newStr. However, strtrim does not remove significant whitespace characters. For example, strtrim removes leading and trailing space and tab characters, but does not remove the nonbreaking space character, char(160).


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Create a character vector with spaces and a tab character as leading whitespace.

chr = sprintf('  \t   Remove    leading whitespace')
chr = 
'  	   Remove    leading whitespace'

Remove the leading tab and spaces.

newChr = strtrim(chr)
newChr = 
'Remove    leading whitespace'

strtrim removes the leading whitespace characters, but not the whitespace between other characters.

Create a string array.

str = ["   Gemini    ","   Apollo    ";
       "   ISS       ","   Skylab    "]
str = 2x2 string
    "   Gemini    "    "   Apollo    "
    "   ISS       "    "   Skylab    "

Remove leading and trailing whitespace with the strtrim function.

newStr = strtrim(str)
newStr = 2x2 string
    "Gemini"    "Apollo"
    "ISS"       "Skylab"

Remove the leading and trailing whitespace from all the character vectors in a cell array and display them.

chr = {'     Trim leading whitespace';
       'Trim trailing whitespace     '}
chr = 2x1 cell
    {'     Trim leading whitespace' }
    {'Trim trailing whitespace     '}

newChr = strtrim(chr)
newChr = 2x1 cell
    {'Trim leading whitespace' }
    {'Trim trailing whitespace'}

Create a character vector that includes the nonbreaking space character, char(160), as a trailing whitespace character.

chr = '     Keep nonbreaking space';
chr = [chr char(160) '     '];

Display chr between | symbols to show the leading and trailing whitespace.

['|' chr '|']
ans = 
'|     Keep nonbreaking space      |'

Remove the leading and trailing whitespace characters.

newChr = strtrim(chr);

Display newChr between | symbols. strtrim removes the space characters but leaves the nonbreaking space at the end of newChr.

['|' newChr '|']
ans = 
'|Keep nonbreaking space |'

Input Arguments

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Input text, specified as a character array or as a cell array of character arrays, or a string array.


strtrim does not remove significant whitespace characters.

This table shows the most common characters that are significant whitespace characters and their descriptions. For more information, see Whitespace character.

Significant Whitespace Character



Next line


Nonbreaking space


Figure space


Narrow no-break space

Alternative Functionality

Update code that makes use of strtrim to use strip instead. For example:

Not RecommendedRecommended
str = "     test  ";
newStr = strtrim(str)
newStr = 

str = "     test  ";
newStr = strip(str)
newStr = 


Extended Capabilities

Version History

Introduced before R2006a