Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. 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: Checking for Either of Two Text Values.

Checking for Either of Two Text Values

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 14, 2020)

2

Chris wants to count cells that contain text value A or text value B, anywhere in the cell's text. If the cell contains both A and B, she wants to count it, but only once. For instance, Chris has three cells containing "apple seed", "apple tree", and "peach seed" and she wants to know the number of cells containing either "apple" or "seed". (The proper answer that should be returned is 3.)

There are many ways that this can be approached. In considering solutions, I examined only those solutions that avoid intermediate answers, which occupy additional columns. The first solution involves using the COUNTIF function in this manner:

=COUNTIF(A1:A9,"*apple*")+COUNTIF(A1:A9,"*seed*")
-COUNTIF(A1:A9,"*seed*apple*")-COUNTIF(A1:A9,"*apple*seed*")

The formula counts all the cells that contain either "apple" or "seed" and then subtracts all the cells that contain "seed" followed by "apple" (both words are in the cell) or "apple" followed by "seed" (the same words in reverse order).

Another solution, this one a bit shorter, relies on the COUNTA and FIND functions, as shown here:

=COUNTA(A1:A9)-SUMPRODUCT(--(ISERROR(FIND("apple",A1:A9)))
*--ISERROR(FIND("seed",A1:A9)))

The formula counts the cells containing values and then subtracts all those cells that don't contain either "apple" or "seed".

You can also, if you prefer, use one of Excel's database functions. Provided you have a column heading for your original phrases, this is not that difficult to do, and it results in the shortest formula. All you need to do is set up a corresponding criteria table. For instance, let's say your data is in A1:A9, and the first cell in the column contains a header such as "My Phrases". In another column you should put the same header and then, in the two cells directly under it, place these two formulas:

*apple*
*seed*

The criteria specify that you want to match any cells that contain "apple" or "seed" within the cell. With this set up (I'm assuming you placed the criteria table in D1:D3), you can use the following formula:

=DCOUNTA(A1:A9,1,D1:D3)

Of course, you could also use an array formula (entered by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Enter) to get your answer. The following is one such formula that relies, again, on the phrases being checked to be in A1:A9:

=SUM(--((ISNUMBER(FIND("apple",A1:A9))+ISNUMBER(FIND("seed",A1:A9)))>0))

If you lean more towards working with macros, you could create a user-defined function that returns the count for you. The following is an example of one that will work:

Function FindTwoStrings(rng As Range, s1 As String, _
  s2 As String) As Integer
    Application.Volatile
    If TypeName(rng) <> "Range" Then Exit Function
    Dim cell As Range
    For Each cell In rng.Cells
        If (InStr(1, UCase(cell.Value), UCase(s1), _
          vbTextCompare) > 0) Or (InStr(1, UCase(cell.Value), _
          UCase(s2), vbTextCompare) > 0) Then _
          FindTwoStrings = FindTwoStrings + 1
    Next cell
End Function

To use the function, you could use this formula in a cell:

=FindTwoStrings(A1:A9,"apple","seed")

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9326) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Checking for Either of Two Text Values.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Controlling Display of the Formula Bar

The Formula Bar is a regularly used feature in the Excel interface. You can, however, modify whether Excel displays the ...

Discover More

Sticking with the Dashes

By default, dashes don't "stick" to the text that follows them. Here's one way around this normal formatting convention.

Discover More

Printing Shortcut Key Assignments from a Macro

Need to know what shortcut keys are defined? You can use a single macro command line to print out the definitions.

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Patterns of Numbers with a Formula

Want to create a sequential pattern using formulas? It's easy to do if you take a look at how your data repeats. This tip ...

Discover More

Combining Cell Contents

Excel allows you to easily combine text together. Interestingly, it provides two ways you can perform such combinations. ...

Discover More

Extracting First and Last Words

When working with text phrases stored in cells, it might be helpful to be able to extract words from the phrase. In this ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 9 - 8?

2020-03-15 05:39:40

Alex B

The 1st Example with the Countif will be slightly shorter and easier to read if you throw the newer Countifs into the mix. Making the 2nd line where you deduct 1 for each double up this:-
-COUNTIFS(A1:A9,"*apple*",A1:A9,"*seed*")


2020-03-14 16:29:53

Tim

It’s always nice to see a variety of a methods! I think the first “countif” method could even serve as an illustration in my data management math class, teaching about counting non-mutually exclusive events with Venn diagrams. I wrote a complicated PoerApps function that accepts Any number of search terms (comma delimited), since I found this search functionality missing from Excel. I like the DCOUNTA method. I haven’t used that before! It cones the closest to working for n search terms.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.