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.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 27, 2013)
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.
Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!
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
Using Find and Replace is something quite routine in Excel, as it easily allows you to find and replace information in your ...Discover More
Want to make instances of a given word or phrase bold throughout a worksheet? Here's a way you can make the change quickly.Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
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.