Counting String Occurrences in Odd Rows

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 3, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016


Jeff has a worksheet with quite a bit of text in it, in column C. He would like to count occurrences of a specific string within column C, but only for odd rows (1, 3, 5, etc.) in the data. The string he's looking for may not be the entire cell contents, and it may occur multiple times within a particular cell. (If it occurs 2 or 3 times in a cell, it should count as 2 or 3 occurrences.) He wonders if there is a formulaic way to do this, without resorting to a macro.

One way to approach this is through the use of a helper column. For instance, let's say that you can use column D as a helper column, and the first cell containing data is cell C2. (Perhaps cell C1 has a column heading in it.) You could use the following formula in cell D2:

=IF(MOD(ROW(),2)=1,(LEN(C2)-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(C2,"my text","")))/LEN("my text"),"")

All you would need to do is replace the search string ("my text") with whatever you are searching for. The LEN function is used twice, first to find the length of whatever is in cell C2 and then to subtract from it the length of the text with all instances of "my text" removed. This value is then divided by the length of what you are searching for, resulting in how many instances of the search text was in the cell. Note that the IF function ensures that a numeric value is returned only if the row is an odd-numbered row.

You can copy this formula down as many rows as necessary, and then sum the column. The result is the number of times the string appear in odd-numbered rows.

If the layout of your worksheet does not allow you to use a helper column, then you can rely on a formula that works on arrays of data. Here's one that does the trick:

=SUMPRODUCT((LEN(C:C)-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(C:C,"my text","")))/LEN("my text")*ISODD(ROW(C:C)))

This formula essentially does the same as the previous formula, except that the SUMPRODUCT function does the calculation internally for each cell in column C. You should realize that since the formula examines all of column C, that means if your search text ("my text") occurs within any non-data cells in the column (such as a column header), then it will also be included in the total returned.

If you do decide to use a macro, you could easily create a user-defined function that examines a range of cells and determines the count. The following is an example of the type of macro you could use:

Function CountInst(rSource As Range, sSearch As String, bCaseInsensitive As Boolean) As Integer
    Dim c As Range
    Dim iCount As Integer
    Dim sTemp1 As String
    Dim sTemp2 As String

    sTemp2 = sSearch
    If bCaseInsensitive Then sTemp2 = LCase(sTemp2)
    iCount = 0

    For Each c In rSource
        If c.Row Mod 2 = 1 Then
            sTemp1 = c.Text
            If bCaseInsensitive Then sTemp1 = LCase(sTemp1)

            iCount = iCount + (Len(sTemp1) - _
              Len(Replace(sTemp1, sTemp2, ""))) / Len(sTemp2)
        End If
    Next c

    CountInst = iCount
End Function

To use this, all you need to do is provide a range, what you want to search for, and whether you want the matching to be case insensitive or not. For instance, if you want to search for "my text" and have the case not matter, you would use the following:

=CountInst(C2:C99,"my text",TRUE)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (1514) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016.

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. ...

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