**Please Note: **
This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), *this tip may not work for you*. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Limitations On Finding Characters.

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 my formula but he seemed to find this Excel limitation instead.

There is no limitation that we can find; Find and Replace should find the text MIMO at the end of the string, no matter how long. (This is dependent on the length limitations for strings in Excel, of course.)

That being said, there is an explanation as to why this probably occurred; a short experiment will illustrate the reason. In cell A1, enter the letters "**MIMO**." Then, in cell A2, enter the formula **=A1**. Both of these cells should show the text "MIMO" on the screen.

Now, in cell A5 enter the following formula:

=SEARCH("MIMO",A1)

Copy the formula down one cell, to A6. The result of both formulas should be the number 1, just as you expect—SEARCH finds the text "MIMO" beginning at the first character position in both A1 and A2.

Now, press **Ctrl+F** and enter "**MIMO**" (without the quotes) in the Find What box. When you click on Find Next, Excel should select cell A1. When you click Find Next again, it should skip to cell A5. In other words, it bypasses cell A2. What gives? You can clearly see "MIMO" in the cell, but Excel doesn't find it.

The reason is because the default way in which Excel does its searching is to look in formulas, not at the values produced by those formulas. In the worksheet, cell A1 has "MIMO" within the formula (it is the actual contents of the cell), but cell A2 doesn't have it in the formula—it is the result of the formula.

If you want to find "MIMO" in both instances, then you need to change how you use Find and Replace. When you press **Ctrl+F** to display the Find dialog box, make sure you use the Look In drop-down list to choose Values. When you do the search, Excel bases what it finds on what is shown on the screen. With this setting, Find and Replace works exactly the same way as the SEARCH function, which also bases its results on the cell value, not the underlying formula that results in the value.

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This tip (9237) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: **Limitations On Finding Characters**.

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2019-04-09 14:33:08

Roy

I always figured that was a limit of the function, older ones, perhaps written with more limited resources, making, say, 8-bit variables instead of whatever the system can handle. Maybe I was right too.

But, perhaps functions rely also on an underlying "rendering" engine that presents them with whatever, and that's all they get hence their limits on things like length.

If you do as Mike says, but dial the length down by reducing the 700 to whatever (100 puts the length at 4404 and works properly where 200 does not. Sound like a 6,000-ish issue?) and Find begins to work as expected.

No function/formula/Named Range/etc. is involved, just a clear limit on how far into the string Find can go. Since MS's general approach is something that overloads just fails, too bad ("NO! Too bad for you! And I won't tell you why!"), and presents an error ("graceful" fail), one suspects it is not that Find overloads and fails "ultra-gracefully" - just stopping on one cell's content with no warning that it did so, but presenting other results (not stopping either, put a good one after a bad one and it finds the good one, so not stopping at first failure and missing 2,000 good ones that follow).

The limit I find here is length 8192 - which should be familiar to anyone who has ever looked at powers of 2 past 4096. (The 32767 thing is 1 less tha 32768 which is four times this length. I never did see offhand where the 6,000 range limits arise from.)

Find either stops at that length or is never presented anything longer than that length to start with.

So... there IS a limit on Find. However it arises.

2015-09-17 19:24:53

Mike

This is annoying - now to find a work around

2015-04-08 03:58:34

Brooke

Thank you Allen, the only post I have found that could help me with this annoying problem.

2014-08-24 21:09:27

GlobalUniqueMike

2014-03-24 09:57:19

Bryan

1) Type "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" in cell A1

2) In cell A2 type =REPT(A1,700)&"asdf"

3) Copy A2 and choose "Paste Special -- Values" in A3

4) Ctrl+F search for "the" (Within Sheet, Search By Rows, Look in Formulas). Find will show you A1 and A3. This is the expected behavior.

5) Do the same search as (4), but search for "asdf". To be consistent, we should see A2 and A3, but Find will ONLY show you A2. This is the error Harold described.

While A3 is not a formula, we have clearly demonstrated that text values are searched as formulas when the result is early enough in a cell. If you know that you should have a result and the text is very large, change Look in to Values and Find will return A2 and A3.

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