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: Finding the Nth Occurrence of a Character.

Finding the Nth Occurrence of a Character

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 7, 2015)

15

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, and 2013. 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

Highlight Words from a Word List

Do you need to highlight certain words in a document, and aren't quite sure how to go about it? Using the techniques ...

Discover More

Understanding Outlining in Word

Remember when you needed to create outlines for your writing when you were in school? Word includes outlining ...

Discover More

Getting Rid of Spaces in Cells

Importing data into Excel that was generated in other programs can have some interesting side effects. For instance, you ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Deleting Duplicate Text Values

Got a list of data from which you want to delete duplicates? There are a couple of techniques you can use to get rid of ...

Discover More

Checking for Duplicate Rows Based on a Range of Columns

When working with data in Excel, you might want to figure out which rows of data represent duplicates of other rows. If ...

Discover More

Automatically Numbering Rows

Adding row numbers to a column of your worksheet is easy; you just need to use a formula to do it. Here's a quick look at ...

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 6 - 3?

2016-12-02 14:57:20

Luc

Interesting. I'm looking for a way to find e-mails which contain more than three occurrences of a particular string.

Could I maybe connect Excel to gmail, imort the mail and use a variation of this to find messages which contain e.g. the word 'Pega' more than three times?


2016-11-30 02:56:58

Hai Mai

Thank for your post. It saves my time.


2016-04-13 05:15:35

Michael (Micky) Avidan

@Shakir,
Try the following suggested formula:
(see Figure 1 below)
--------------------------
Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2016)
ISRAEL

Figure 1. REPEAT 3 FIRST CHARACTERS 8 TIMES


2016-04-13 03:46:07

shakir babu

How to repeat left 3 characters of the name(SHAKIR) 8 times in Ms excel


2016-04-02 06:08:18

Rick Rothstein

There is a much shorter UDF (a one-liner) available for your FindN function...

Function FindN(sFindWhat As String, sInputString As String, N As Long) As Long
FindN = InStr(Replace(sInputString, sFindWhat, " ", 1, N - 1), sFindWhat)
End Function


2016-02-25 05:17:56

balthamossa2b

@Yanal

This may interest you:

http://www.mrexcel.com/forum/excel-questions/440487-extract-text-number-column-help.html


2016-02-24 08:45:20

YANAL ALKURDI

hi

how can i extract the number between the "#" and the "-" as marked in the red below and for several times
"COST OF XO Ticket(s) # [29]
{ RJ } -- Ticket(s) # 5125838371064 - Pax = REBEKKA ROGGLI
- Ticket(s) # 5125838371065 - Pax = CHRISTOPH RIGGOLI
- Ticket(s) # 5125838371066 - Pax = NAEL ROGGLI CHD
- Ticket(s) # 5125838371067 - Pax = ELA ROGGLI CHD
- Ticket(s) # 5125838371068 - Pax = ALYA ROGGLI INF
- Ticket(s) # 5125838371069 - Pax = ANNA WINKLER
- Route = AMM/SSH/AMM
- Class ="

and if there is a macro to be used.

Thank you, for all your help and hope to fear from you soon.










2015-07-08 09:52:18

Michael (Micky) Avidan

@Gokulraj,
The original task was to find the position of the Nth occurrence of a character in a string AND NOT to find the position of the LAST occurrence.
--------------------------
Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2016)
ISRAEL


2015-07-08 01:19:13

Gokulraj

Just Place the below macro in Your excel as a Module Code.

Function LastpositionOfChar(strVal As String, strChar As String)

LongLastpositionOfChar = InStrRev(strVal, strChar)

End Function


2015-06-18 10:58:46

Michael (Micky) Avidan

@Sanjay,
Try the hereunder User Defined Function (UDF):
---------------------------------------
Function Extruct_Numbers_From_Within_Brackets(Rng As Range)
CR = 1
While CR < Len(Rng)
F1 = Application.Find("[", Rng, CR) + 1
F2 = Application.Find("]", Rng, F1) - 1
For N = F1 To F2
NM = NM + Mid(Rng, N, 1)
Next
NM = NM + ";"
CR = F2 + 1
Wend
Extruct_Numbers_From_Within_Brackets = Left(NM, Len(NM) - 1)
End Function
-----------------------
Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2015)
ISRAEL


2015-06-17 14:20:02

Sanjay

Thanks You! Please solve my query here: I have a value in a cell A1 which contains:

M4.CTC.VA03.Verify Sales Documents.v2 [14294], MSUP.CTC.VA03.Verify Sales Documents.v2 [14957], MSUP.CTC.VA03.Verify Sales Documents.v2 [15019], MSUP.CTC.VA03.Verify Sales Documents.v3 [15156]

I would like to have a value in Cell B as: 14294;14957;15019;15156

Basically, it should look for a text "[" and then return all characters after untill reaches "]".

Please help.


2015-02-10 23:02:21

pmor1945

wulflyng

Copy the surrounding text or complete tip to Notepad, and the hidden text will be displayed.


2015-02-10 04:48:40

pmyk

While using in VBA Range should be used.
[code]
Dim Ans As Integer
Ans = FindN("b", Range("C15"), 3)
MsgBox Ans
[/code]


2015-02-09 09:23:17

wulflyng

On my system, an advertisement covers part of the first formula.


2015-02-09 04:32:09

balthamossa2b

To make the search non-case sensitive, just add at the top of your VBA Module:

Option Compare Text



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.