Excel.Tips.Net ExcelTips (Menu Interface)

Checking for Either of Two Text Values

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: Checking for Either of Two Text Values.

Chris wants to count cells that contain text value A or text value B, anywhere in the cell's text. If the cell contains both A and B, she wants to count it, but only once. For instance, Chris has three cells containing "apple seed", "apple tree", and "peach seed" and she wants to know the number of cells containing either "apple" or "seed". (The proper answer that should be returned is 3.)

There are many ways that this can be approached. In considering solutions, I examined only those solutions that avoid intermediate answers, which occupy additional columns. The first solution involves using the COUNTIF function in this manner:


The formula counts all the cells that contain either "apple" or "seed" and then subtracts all the cells that contain "seed" followed by "apple" (both words are in the cell) or "apple" followed by "seed" (the same words in reverse order).

Another solution, this one a bit shorter, relies on the COUNTA and FIND functions, as shown here:


The formula counts the cells containing values and then subtracts all those cells that don't contain either "apple" or "seed". Note that the FIND function is case sensitive, meaning that only "apple" is found and not "Apple" or "APPLE". If you need something that is case insensitive, replace FIND with SEARCH.

You can also, if you prefer, use one of Excel's database functions. Provided you have a column heading for your original phrases, this is not that difficult to do and it results in the shortest formula. All you need to do is set up a corresponding criteria table. For instance, let's say your data is in A1:A9, and the first cell in the column contains a header such as "My Phrases". In another column you should put the same header and then, in the two cells directly under it, place these two formulas:


The criteria specify that you want to match any cells that contain "apple" or "seed" within the cell. With this set up (I'm assuming you placed the criteria table in D1:D3), you can use the following formula:


Of course, you could also use an array formula (entered by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Enter) to get your answer. The following is one such formula that relies, again, on the phrases being checked to be in A1:A9:


If you lean more towards working with macros, you could create a user-defined function that returns the count for you. The following is an example of one that will work:

Function FindTwoStrings(rng As Range, s1 As String, _
  s2 As String) As Integer
    If TypeName(rng) <> "Range" Then Exit Function
    Dim cell As Range
    For Each cell In rng.Cells
        If (InStr(1, UCase(cell.Value), UCase(s1), _
          vbTextCompare) > 0) Or (InStr(1, UCase(cell.Value), _
          UCase(s2), vbTextCompare) > 0) Then _
          FindTwoStrings = FindTwoStrings + 1
    Next cell
End Function

To use the function you could use this formula in a cell:


ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9325) 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: Checking for Either of Two Text Values.

Related Tips:

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!


Leave your own comment:

  Notify me about new comments ONLY FOR THIS TIP
Notify me about new comments ANYWHERE ON THIS SITE
Hide my email address
*What is 5+3 (To prevent automated submissions and spam.)
           Commenting Terms

Comments for this tip:

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)

Our Company

Sharon Parq Associates, Inc.

About Tips.Net

Contact Us


Advertise with Us

Our Privacy Policy

Our Sites


Beauty and Style




DriveTips (Google Drive)

ExcelTips (Excel 97–2003)

ExcelTips (Excel 2007–2016)



Home Improvement

Money and Finances


Pests and Bugs

Pets and Animals

WindowsTips (Microsoft Windows)

WordTips (Word 97–2003)

WordTips (Word 2007–2016)

Our Products

Helpful E-books

Newsletter Archives


Excel Products

Word Products

Our Authors

Author Index

Write for Tips.Net

Copyright © 2016 Sharon Parq Associates, Inc.