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.

Searching for Wildcards

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 28, 2020)

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.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Jumping to Text in Worksheet from an Index

In putting together a workbook, you may develop a worksheet that acts as an index, to contain links that lead to other ...

Discover More

Removing All Text Boxes In a Document

Text boxes are a common element of many types of documents. At some point you may want to get rid of all the text boxes ...

Discover More

Moving Captions with Pictures

Put a caption with a picture and you'd probably like the two elements to behave like they belong together. If you are ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Superscripts in Find and Replace

The find and replace used in Excel is less powerful than its counterpart in Word, so it is not able to do some of the ...

Discover More

Replacing Characters at the End of a Cell

The Find and Replace capabilities of Excel can come in handy, but they can't accomplish all your replacement needs. One ...

Discover More

Searching for All

When you are working on a worksheet (particularly a large one), you may want to search for and possibly copy information ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is nine more than 5?

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


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.