If you haven’t used Zapier’s inbuilt text formatting function then you may be surprised by just how powerful it is. Many zaps process character data in one form or another, and if the data isn’t ‘clean’ then it won’t look neat when it’s output onto invoices, used in emails or printed in a document.
Being able to tidy up your data using Zapier’s formatting function is a real game-changer, and there are so many possibilities for what you can do with it. Being able to manipulate text allows you to automatically compose emails, write social media posts and replace many manual tasks to save time in your business.
We dive into some of our favourite ways of formatting text here, to give you a flavour of what’s possible and hopefully inspire you to try it out!
How to format text using Zapier
When you want to format text then you’ll need to choose the Formatter By Zapier app as your action step. If you aren’t sure what an action step is, or other Zapier terminology then read our guide on how to get started with Zapier.
The functionality within Formatter By Zapier includes so many different options for text. You can transform characters from one format to another, and you can also extract text which matches certain criteria.
Text Action Event
You should choose ‘Text’ as your Action Event (see below):
Next, you need to choose how you want to Transform the text, and you’ll be presented with a list of options (see below). There are 26 different ways of formatting text, and they are listed in alphabetic order. You can click ‘Load More’ to see the full list.
In the next sections we explain in a bit more detail how some of the formatting options work, and where you might use them.
So read on for inspiration for how you can supercharge your automations using text transformations!
What options does Formatter By Zapier include for text?
These are some of the most useful ways of transforming character data, and we include some specific, real-life examples below, to show you how to really unlock the power of Zapier’s text formatted.
CAPITALIZE transforms text into ‘proper’ case with the first character of each word capitalized. For example, this could force an address to be displayed properly, converting it from ‘2 london road’ to ‘2 London Road’. It can be really useful when people are lazy entering their name and address into a webform as it allows you to clean it up so that it looks nice when used in emails and documents.
Note: if you want to convert ALL of your text into capitals then use the UPPERCASE transformation.
If data in your zap could be empty but you want to set a default value then you can use the DEFAULT VALUE transformation function. For example, if your webform has optional fields but they are mandatory in your CRM then you can set a default value here, maybe setting it to ‘Unknown’ or ‘N/A’.
Extract Email Address
One of the most useful transformations is to use EXTRACT EMAIL ADDRESS to extract an email address from text. You can then use this to compose an email, add it to your email platform or store in your CRM.
The EXTRACT NUMBER transformation extracts the first number it finds within the text. It will return numbers with a single decimal point, e.g. 12.34, and also where commas are used to separate groupings of digits, e.g. 123,456,789.
Note: this function should not be used for extracting phone numbers as that has its own transformation, EXTRACT PHONE NUMBER.
Extract Phone Number
If you want to extract a telephone number from a string then use the EXTRACT PHONE NUMBER transformation to identify certain number groupings. It will find groups of 3-3-4 and 4-3-3 digits, and additionally find a country code or extension number if they have been provided. It will identify them even if the numbers are separated by a hyphen, period (full stop) or space.
It’s worth noting that this won’t work for UK telephone numbers where the groupings are often 5-6, 5-3-3 or 3-4-4. If you use this function, be sure to test it with some common number formats to ensure it works for your use case.
The FIND transformation finds the first occurrence of a word in the text and returns its numeric position. It will return a value of -1 if the word doesn’t exist in the text, or a positive number to represent where it appears, if it does exist.
The LOWERCASE transformation converts all the text to lower case. This could be useful if you’re creating filenames and you want them to be consistent. Making them all lower case would be a good way of achieving that. You might also want to ensure an email address or URL is all lower case too.
The PLURALIZE transformation turns a singular word into a plural, using the correct English pluralization rules. For example, ‘car’ becomes ‘cars’. This could be really useful if you have an e-commerce store, to output product names based on their quantity. It might look odd on an invoice if it says ‘4 book’ whereas ‘4 books’ looks much nicer.
The REPLACE transformation will replace a word or phrase with another of your choosing. This could be useful if you (or a staff member!) commonly misspells a word. Or you may have a new staff member whose name you’d like to use on a document and want to replace a previous signatory.
You can also space out the text (or remove spaces) using special syntax for carriage returns and new lines.
You simply use the phrase you’d like to replace and define the new text you want to change it to.
You can also replace characters such as tabs. For these special characters you can use a specific syntax, for example [:newline:] for new line characters, [:space:] for spaces, [:tab:] for tabs and [:return:] for carriage returns.
The SPLIT TEXT transformation is really useful and allows you to separate words into different fields. For example, if somebody’s full name is provided in a web form then you might want to address them by their first name in an email newsletter. You can split the first and last names using the SPLIT TEXT transformation.
You can also do this with different separators, for example another word, or a tab character (using the [:tab:] syntax).
The TITLECASE transformation is subtly different from ‘capitalize’ in that it doesn’t capitalize the first letter of EVERY word. It ignores minor words such as ‘to’, ‘of’ and ‘a’. This can be really useful for headings, blogs and book titles, and also movie names. For example, if you use ‘how to format text in a sentence’ as the input then the result will be ‘How to Format the Text in a Sentence’.
The TRIM WHITESPACE transformation is useful if you have text in a document or webform with large areas of whitespace. This transformation will trim the whitespace from before and after the text.
The TRUNCATE transformation limits the input text to a certain number of characters. You can either specify the overall length you’d like to reduce it to, or start at a certain point and just include the next N characters.
This could be really useful when sharing on social media. The Twitter character limit is very restricted so it could help to reduce the text you post in a controlled manner, with ‘visit our website to read more’ or ‘…’ added to the end of a post.
You can add the ellipsis (…) to the end using a tickbox which asks if you’d like to ‘Append Ellipsis’.
As you might guess, the UPPERCASE transformation converts all the text into upper case. This could be useful if the target app requires uppercase versions of a value, or if you’re trying to search for some values then converting them all to uppercase could be a good way of finding them consistently.
Real life examples of using Zapier’s text formatter
If you’d like some inspiration for how Zapier’s text formatter could save time (and money!) in your business then here are some examples we’ve seen recently.
Example 1 : save money by using the free version of apps
Some apps have brilliant free versions which can do most of what you need, but may not include a Zapier integration. One way of circumnavigating this is by thinking outside the box!
Calendly is a great diary tool which allows people to book time with you and automatically set up video-conferencing details. However, you need the professional plan to integrate it with Zapier. A great workaround for this is using your calendar app such as Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook, which Calendly will add an appointment to automatically, along with the relevant videoconferencing link.
Simply create a zap which triggers when a new event is added to the calendar for a Calendly meeting, and extract the email addresses of the attendees using Zapier’s EXTRACT EMAIL ADDRESS transformation. Then you can add steps to send attendees a reminder 1 day before along with the Zoom link, via email, or even a sequence of reminders to ensure they don’t forget!
Example 2 : saving time when adding new contacts to your email platform
If someone signs up for your mailing list then it’s useful to be able to address them using their first name when you write to them. If you have only one field for their name on your webform then you can use the SPLIT TEXT transformation to split out their first and last names before adding them to your email platform.
This saves time from doing it manually or needing a regular task to check that your list is ‘clean’.
Example 3 : Assigning a default value when a task has no owner
If you use a project management tool such as Asana or Trello then the quickest way to get something done is to assign a task to a specific person. However, if you’re setting up a zap to create tasks automatically then you may use a lookup to assign an owner for it. However, if the lookup doesn’t return a result then you can use the DEFAULT VALUE transformation function to assign the task to a manager or another member of the team who can then triage the item and pass it onto someone else.
Find out more
If you’d like to find out more, with detailed examples of many of the text transformations mentioned above (and more) then we’d recommend Kelly’s book, Automate It with Zapier, which is available on Amazon.
We also offer a free e-book and cheat sheet if you want to find out more about the no-code revolution and other built-in functions offered by Zapier.
Our free Introduction To Zapier e-book explains the benefits of business process automation, how Zapier fits in and examples of automations for each department within your business.
We have a free cheat sheet with a checklist of Zapier’s inbuilt function which can supercharge your automations.
Check out our automation training programme
And finally, if you’re really keen to transform your business using automation, then visit the Solvaa Automation Academy. Our signature training programme, ‘Simple Automation Blueprint: Zero to Hero’ is aimed at anyone who wants to learn the fundamentals of business process automation from the experts – a sure-fire way to recession-proof your business.
It’s an 8-week blended learning course with on-demand videos, templates, resources and weekly group coaching sessions. And it’s more than just a Zapier course (although we do show you how to use Zapier like a pro) as you’ll learn about Process Mapping, Business Process Improvement and Business Process Management too – principles that can be applied to other areas of business too!
Whether you are a complete novice or have been using Zapier for a while, our programme is for you. It’s perfect for individuals and teams in micro, small and medium-sized businesses, including solopreneurs, consultants and freelancers. You’ll have access to our experts and can participate in live calls where you can ask all your burning questions, as well as hands-on workshops to keep you on track with implementing your new skills. We run regular cohorts so there will be an opportunity for everyone to participate.
Our head trainer, Kelly Goss, is a specialist in business systems, process improvement and automation, and one of less than 100 Zapier Certified Experts in the world. Kelly has many years’ experience in optimising systems and processes, and implementing automations for clients and is now passing on her knowledge to students through our trademarked ‘4-Step Solvaa Automation Methodology®‘.
Find out more via our dedicated Solvaa Automation Academy website.
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