Wildcard Characters

A little know feature in Excel is the wildcard characters which allow you to tell Excel when you only know part of a lookup value.

For example if you know you are looking for the word “manager” in a cell but it may be between other words e.g. ” general manager”, “senior manager”,”manager of operations”, etc you can specify that the search is for manager anywhere in the cell.

To do this you use the * of ? symbols.

So if I search for *manager* I am telling Excel to search for manager but there may be any number of characters before and after the word.  If I search for ???manager???, I am asking Excel to search for manager but there are exactly 3 characters in front of it and 3 characters at the end.

These wildcards can be used in a number of tools and functions such as the FIND/ REPLACE tool, VLOOKUP, COUNTIF and SUMIF functions and many others.

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