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Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Searching for Wildcards.
You know that you can use Excel's Find and Replace feature to locate information in your workbooks. (Just press Ctrl+F or Ctrl+H to pull up the dialog box.) You may even know that you can use question marks (?) and asterisks (*) as wildcard characters, just as you would at a DOS command prompt. What if you want to search for a cell that actually contains an asterisk or a question mark, however?
Excel allows you to search for special characters by preceding the character with the tilde (~). In other words, if you want to search for an asterisk, you would actually search for ~*. If you wanted to search for the question mark, you would search for ~? instead.
Finally, if you wanted to search for the tilde character, you would actually search for ~~. In each instance, the leading tilde informs Excel that the following character should be translated as an actual character, and not as a special wildcard character.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2333) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Searching for Wildcards.
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