# Identifying Values that Don't Follow a Specific Pattern

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 27, 2024)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021

Vishwajeet has a series of part numbers in a column. These part numbers must follow a specifc pattern (2 numbers, 5 letters, 4 numbers, 1 letter, 1 number, 1 letter, and 1 number). He wonders if there is a way to easily identify which of the cells in the column vary from this pattern.

There are a number of ways you can approach this task, depending on the true nature of your data. For instance, you could use a formula like this in a helper column:

```=AND(LEN(A1)=15,ISNUMBER(--LEFT(A1,2)),ISTEXT(MID(A1,3,5)),
ISNUMBER(--MID(A1,8,4)),ISTEXT(MID(A1,12,1)),ISNUMBER(--
MID(A1,13,1)),ISTEXT(MID(A1,14,1)),ISNUMBER(--RIGHT(A1,1)))
```

The formula (which is quite long) returns True or False, depending on whether the pattern is correct or not. There is a problem with the formula, however. It won't catch symbols used in place of letters (such as a dollar sign or an asterisk) and it won't catch some symbols used in place of numbers (such as a period or a percent sign). The reason is that the ISTEXT function considers symbols to be text and the ISNUMBER function parses something like "1.23" as a number.

If you want to catch this improper use of symbols, the following formula could be used:

```=AND(LEN(A1)=15,ISNUMBER(SUM(SEARCH(MID(A1,{1,2,8,9,10,11,
13,15},1),"0123456789"),SEARCH(MID(A1,{3,4,5,6,7,12,14},1),
"ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ"))))
```

This one works because it uses the SEARCH function to effectively check every character in the part number.

If you need to check the part number patterns quite a bit, you may want to consider using a macro to do the checking. The following is a short user-defined function that uses the Like operator to see if the pattern is followed.

```Function CheckPattern(rCell As Range) As Boolean
Dim sPattern As String

sPattern = "##[A-Z][A-Z][A-Z][A-Z][A-Z]####[A-Z]#[A-Z]#"

CheckPattern = rCell.Value Like sPattern
End Function
```

Note the use of the sPattern variable. This is the pattern to be followed when the Like operator does its comparison. Each occurrence of the # symbol means that any digit can be in this position. Each occurrence of [A-Z] means that the position can be one letter in the range of A to Z.

You can find more about the meaning of the characters you can include in the pattern by visiting this page at one of Microsoft's sites:

```https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/dotnet/visual-basic/language-reference/operators/like-operator
```

This site is actually for Visual Basic, not VBA, but this particular page of information will work just fine in VBA.

To use the CheckPattern user-defined function, you can place the following in any cell in your worksheet:

```=CheckPattern(A1)
```

This assumes that the part number is in cell A1, as do all the other formulas presented in this tip.

You could also utilize the UDF in a conditional formatting rule to easily highlight cells that don't follow the pattern. I won't go into how to create such a rule here, as I've done it elsewhere in ExcelTips. All you need to do, however, is set up a rule that uses a formula and then use the following as the formula:

```=AND(CheckPattern(A1)=FALSE,A1<>"")
```

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3391) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

##### 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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What is two minus 0?

2024-05-01 12:51:26

Sandeep

Thanks Allen.

2024-04-30 09:35:17

Allen

Sandeep,

I just checked, and there is no redirect on that tip. This is the URL:

https://excelribbon.tips.net/T012654

It goes to a different tip entirely.

-Allen

2024-04-30 09:18:08

sandeep

Dear Woolley, T012654 is redirecting me to T003391_Identifying_Values_that_Dont_Follow_a_Specific_Pattern, which is this tip. Please check & provide correct link.

2024-04-29 10:22:54

J. Woolley

The Tip doesn't mention whether letters in Vishwajeet's part numbers are required to be upper-case. The SEARCH function in the Tip's second formula is not case-sensitive. FIND can be substituted for SEARCH if upper-case letters are required.
The Tip's CheckPattern function will be case-sensitive unless it is in a module headed by the following statement:
Option Compare Text
My Excel Toolbox includes the following case-sensitive function for convenient use of VBA's Like operator in a cell formula:
=IsLike(Text, Pattern)
So the Tip's CheckPattern(A1) formula can be replaced by this:
=IsLike(A1, "##[A-Z][A-Z][A-Z][A-Z][A-Z]####[A-Z]#[A-Z]#")
This formula can be modified to ignore case as follows:
=IsLike(UPPER(A1), "##[A-Z][A-Z][A-Z][A-Z][A-Z]####[A-Z]#[A-Z]#")
My Excel Toolbox also includes the following case-sensitive function for convenient use of VBScript.RegExp to compare Text with a regular expression Pattern:
=IsRegEx(Text, Pattern)
So the Tip's CheckPattern(A1) formula can be replaced by this:
=IsRegEx(A1, "^\d{2}[A-Z]{5}\d{4}([A-Z]\d){2}\$")
This formula can be modified to ignore case as follows:
=IsRegEx(UPPER(A1), "^\d{2}[A-Z]{5}\d{4}([A-Z]\d){2}\$")
See https://excelribbon.tips.net/T012654 for more on this subject.

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