**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: Counting Cells with Specific Characters.

Let's say that you have a worksheet that contains all the people who have ever worked in your department. Each name is prefaced by a single character that indicates the status of the person. For instance, if Fred Davis were retired, his name might show up as "RFred Davis". With quite a lot of these names in the worksheet, you may need a way to count those people with a specific status character.

The easiest way to accomplish this is to use the COUNTIF function. If, for instance, the status character is the letter R (for "retired"), and your range of names is in cells A5:A52, then you could use the following to determine which cells begin with the letter R:

=COUNTIF(A5:A52,"R*")

The formula works because the comparison value is R*, which means "the letter R followed by any other characters." Excel dutifully returns the count. To search for a different status character, simply replace R with the desired status character.

Obviously, if the asterisk has a special meaning in this usage, you can't search directly for an asterisk. Actually, there are three characters you cannot search for directly: the asterisk (*), the question mark (?) and the tilde (~). If you want to search for any of these characters, you must precede the character with the tilde. Thus, if you wanted to determine a count of names that had a question mark as a status code, you could use the following:

=COUNTIF(A5:A52,"~?*")

An alternative to using COUNTIF is to create an array formula that is applied to every cell in the range. The following will do the trick very nicely:

=SUM((LEFT(A5:A52,1)="R")*1)

This must, of course, be entered as an array formula. This means that instead of pressing **Enter** at the end of the formula, you would press **Shift+Ctrl+Enter**. The formula checks the left-most character of a cell, returning the value TRUE if it is R or FALSE if it is not. The multiplication is done to convert the TRUE/FALSE value to a number, either 1 for TRUE or 0 for FALSE. The SUM function returns the sum, or count, of all the cells that meet the criteria.

One final note: The formulas provided in this tip are a way to deal with the data as originally presented at the first of the tip. If you have any control at all over your data, you really should consider removing the "R" (or any other leading status character) from the names. Those sort of characters really deserve their own column, instead of complicating the name field. Use the Text to Columns tool to separate out the "R" and any other leading characters, and then you can more easily work with them in your formulas.

*ExcelTips* is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training.
This tip (9871) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: **Counting Cells with Specific Characters**.

**Create Custom Apps with VBA!** Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out *Mastering VBA for Office 2013* today!

At the heart of working with Excel is the process of creating formulas that calculate results based on information within a ...

Discover MoreRemember your number line from your early years in school? Some numbers can be below zero (negative numbers) and others above ...

Discover MoreYou can use the Alt+Enter keyboard shortcut while entering information in order to force your data onto multiple lines in a ...

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

2017-08-17 05:01:52

Peter therton

Kris

=SUM((LEFT(A5:A52,2)="EC")*1)

or to get both together

=SUM((LEFT(A5:A52,2)={"EC","EV"})*1)

2017-08-15 17:00:44

kris

2017-07-21 04:18:57

Peter

Try this Array formula

=SUM(IF(MID(A17:A20,2,1)=C18,1,"")) (enter with Ctl + Shift + Enter)

where c18 contains the letter to look for.

2017-07-20 17:25:09

2016-09-27 14:19:37

jagdish

Here I am just pasting records (2 rows).

(i) A phase II clinical study of interl(ii) Cancer stages: What do Chinese cancer patients know? Final safety and efficacy data for Asian patients (pts) in the MO19390 (SAiL) trial: First-line bevacizumab (Bv) plus chemotherapy in advanced or recurrent non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Kindly inform where I am committing mistake. I put these text in column A then put = in column B and use the above formula by selecting the range.

thanks,

Mr. Jagdish

2015-08-27 07:15:38

@Dave

Step 1 of IT: always assume there will be errors. Most of these caused by users.

2015-08-24 03:27:20

Bunio

Namely:

SUMPRODUCT(+LEFT(LEFT(A5:A52,1)="R")*1)

Two remarks:

- "+" or "--" before LEFT is necessary to trigger evaluation in a "numeric" mode

-this approach does not require formula mode.

I have tested it on Polish version

=SUMA.ILOCZYNÓW(+(LEWY(B4:B7;1)="q")*1),

I hope I have transformed correctly to the English one.

2015-08-22 10:05:40

2015-08-22 07:39:45

Peter Curtis

What happens if the person's name is Robert or Roger and they are not retired?

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.

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

Copyright © 2017 Sharon Parq Associates, Inc.

## Comments