Limitations On Finding Characters

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 11, 2020)

Harold wonders if there is a limitation of characters in a cell beyond which "Find" will not find a string. He has a lot of text in one cell (22,500 characters) where the string MIMO is near the end, and "Find and Replace" says it's not there. The reason he knew it was there was because he was testing an array formula using the SEARCH function, and it said MIMO was there. Harold thought he had an error in his formula, but he seemed to find this Excel limitation instead.

I wasn't able to find any limitation noted from any Microsoft source, but in testing there is definitely a limitation. I created a string that was just as long as Harold's, and Find and Replace would not find the characters near the end. That got me to wondering where the actual limit occurred.

It appears that the limit is at 8,192 characters. If the string is exactly 8,192 characters long and the last four characters are "MIMO," then Find and Replace can recognize it with no problem. Add one more character to the string (so it is 8,193 characters long), and if "MIMO" is still at the end, Find and Replace won't find it. If the characters are earlier in the string—before the 8,192-character boundary—then Find and Replace finds it, just as you would expect.

The bottom line is that if you are working with very long text strings in a worksheet, you cannot rely on Find and Replace to locate desired text. If you absolutely must work with long text strings, you might consider developing your own VBA routines to do the searching, as VBA doesn't have this built-in limitation.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9237) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365.

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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