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: Extracting a Pattern from within Text.

# Extracting a Pattern from within Text

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 4, 2018)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003

Tom has a worksheet that contains about 20,000 cells full of textual data. From within these cells he needs to extract a specific pattern of text. The pattern is ##-##### where each # is a digit. This pattern does not appear at a set place in each cell. Tom wonders if there is a way to extract the desired information.

There are several ways that you can approach this problem, and the correct solution for your needs will depend on the characteristics of the data with which you are working. If you know that the only place in your data that you will have a dash is within your pattern, then you can key off of the presence of the dash by using a formula such as the following:

```=MID(A1,FIND("-",A1)-2,8)
```

This finds the dash and then grabs the eight characters beginning two characters to the left of the dash. This obviously will not work if there are dashes in other places in the text or if it is possible to have "patterns" that include non-digits (such as 12-34B32) and you want those excluded. In that case you'll need a much more complex formula:

```=IF(ISERROR(INT(MID(A1, FIND("-", A1, 1)-2, 2)) & INT(MID(
A1, FIND("-", A1, 1)+1, 5))), "", MID(A1, FIND("-", A1)-2, 8))
```

This includes an error checking component that finds out if the characters just before the dash and just after the dash contain anything other than digits. If they do, then nothing is returned.

The one thing that these formulaic approaches don't do is handle those situations where there may be more than one occurrence of the pattern within the same cell. In that case, a macro is the best approach. The following will extract the valid patterns and place them in a new worksheet called "Results".

```Sub ExtractPattern()
On Error Resume Next
Set SourceSheet = ActiveSheet
Set TargetSheet = ActiveWorkbook.Sheets("Results")
If Err = 0 Then
Worksheets("Results").Delete
End If
ActiveSheet.Name = "Results"
Set TargetSheet = ActiveSheet
Cells(1, 1).Value = "Found Codes"
Cells(1, 1).Font.Bold = True
iTargetRow = 2

SourceSheet.Select
Selection.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeLastCell).Select
Range(Selection, Cells(1)).Select

For Each c In Selection.Cells
If c.Value Like "*##-#####*" Then
sRaw = c.Value
iPos = InStr(sRaw, "-")
Do While iPos > 0
If iPos < 3 Then
sRaw = "  " & sRaw
iPos = iPos + 2
End If
sTemp = Mid(sRaw, iPos - 2, 8)
sRaw = Mid(sRaw, iPos + 6, Len(sRaw))
If sTemp Like "##-#####" Then
TargetSheet.Cells(iTargetRow, 1) = sTemp
iTargetRow = iTargetRow + 1
Else
sRaw = Mid(sTemp, 4, 5) & sRaw
End If
iPos = InStr(sRaw, "-")
Loop
End If
Next c
End Sub
```

Note that the macro uses the Like function in two places. The first instance determines if the pattern occurs anywhere in the cell, and the second instance is used to determine if the extracted characters exactly match the desired pattern.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7348) 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: Extracting a Pattern from within Text.

##### 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

Making VLOOKUP Case Sensitive

The VLOOKUP function, like other lookup functions in Excel, is not case sensitive. In other words, it doesn't matter ...

Discover More

Converting European Dates to US Dates

Those in Europe use a date format that is different than those in the US; this is not news. But what if you need to ...

Discover More

Leading Quote Mark Generates Grammar Error

One of the mostly helpful tools that Word includes is a grammar checker. Sometimes, however, the grammar checker might ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

Filling References to Another Workbook

When you create references to cells in other workbooks, Excel, by default, makes the references absolute. This makes it ...

Discover More

Ignoring N/A Values in a Sum

You can use some of Excel's worksheet functions across a range or worksheets, but not all of them. One that has problems ...

Discover More

Simulating Alt+Enter in a Formula

You can use the Alt+Enter keyboard shortcut while entering information in order to force your data onto multiple lines in ...

Discover More
##### Subscribe

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

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. Youâ€™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 eight more than 7?

2018-08-04 05:27:43

Rick Rothstein

Here is another, more compact way to code the For..Next loop shown in your macro...

For Each C In Selection.Cells
Dashes = Split(" " & C & " ", "-")
For x = 0 To UBound(Dashes) - 1
If Dashes(x) Like "*[!0-9]##" And Dashes(x + 1) Like "#####[!0-9]*" Then
TargetSheet.Cells(iTargetRow, 1) = Right(Dashes(x), 2) & "-" & Left(Dashes(x + 1), 5)
iTargetRow = iTargetRow + 1
End If
Next
Next C

##### 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.