Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 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: Finding the Nth Occurrence of a Character.

# Finding the Nth Occurrence of a Character

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

Barry often finds himself wanting to identify the Nth occurrence of a character within a text string. He knows he can use the SEARCH and FIND worksheet functions for finding an initial occurrence, but is unsure how to find, say, the 3rd occurrence of the letter "B" within a text string.

Actually, the SEARCH function could be used to find the desired occurrence, in the following manner:

```=SEARCHB("b",G20,(SEARCHB("b",G20,(SEARCHB("b",G20,1)+1))+1))
```

Notice how the SEARCHB function is used in a nested manner. The formula specifies what is being searched for (the letter "b") and the number of nesting levels indicates which occurrence within the cell you want to find. The formula returns the position of the desired character within the cell.

The problem with such a formula, of course, is that it is difficult to maintain and can quickly get unusable if you want to find, say, the seventh occurrence.

A more flexible formula would be the following:

```=FIND(CHAR(1),SUBSTITUTE(A1,"B",CHAR(1),3))
```

This formula examines the value in A1. It substitutes the CHAR(1) code for the third occurrence of "B" within the cell. The FIND function then looks within the resulting string for the position where CHAR(1) occurs. If the desired occurrence does not exist, then the formula returns a #VALUE error.

If you prefer, you could create a user-defined function that will look for the Nth position of a character. The following is a very simple macro that takes three arguments: the string to be searched, the text to match, and the position desired.

```Function FindN(sFindWhat As String, _
sInputString As String, N As Integer) As Integer
Dim J As Integer

FindN = 0
For J = 1 To N
FindN = InStr(FindN + 1, sInputString, sFindWhat)
If FindN = 0 Then Exit For
Next
End Function
```

The function is case sensitive in what it searches for, and it returns the position within the specified string at which the sFindWhat value occurs. If there is no occurrence at the specified instance, then the function returns a 0. The following shows how the function can be used in a worksheet:

```=FindN("b",C15,3)
```

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 (10567) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Finding the Nth Occurrence of a Character.

##### 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

Jumping to a Relative Section

Navigating through a long document can be challenging, at times. Here's a way you can move forward or backwards in your ...

Discover More

Single-Use Drop-Down List

Want to create an easy drop-down list? You can do so by using the data validation features of Excel.

Discover More

Copying Rows between Worksheets Based on a Text Value

Want to move data from one worksheet to another based on a text value in a column. There are a couple of ways you can ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

##### More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Formulas Don't Calculate as Formulas

Enter a formula (starting with an equal sign) and you may be surprised if Excel doesn’t calculate the formula. Here's a ...

Discover More

Determining Winners, by Category

Do you need to determine the top three values in a range of columns? The techniques discussed in this tip will come in ...

Discover More

Removing Duplicates at a Reduced Precision Level

The precision of numeric values you display in a worksheet can be less than what is actually maintained by Excel. This ...

Discover More
##### Subscribe

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

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 five minus 5?

2021-02-28 04:22:48

Mike

The first, nested, solution appears to work fine using the more common SEARCH function. Under what circumstances would using SEARCHB produce a different result?

2021-02-27 11:48:30

Willy Vanhaelen

This much shorter one-liner avoids a loop and does the same job:

Function FindN(sFindWhat As String, sInputString As String, N As Integer) As Integer
FindN = InStr(Application.Substitute(sInputString, sFindWhat, Chr(1), N), Chr(1))
End Function

##### 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.