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: Searching for Wildcards.

Searching for Wildcards

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 5, 2017)

2

You know that you can use Excel's Find and Replace feature to locate information in your workbooks. (Just press Ctrl+F or Ctrl+H to pull up the proper tab in the dialog box.) You may even know that you can use question marks (?) and asterisks (*) as wildcard characters, just as you would at a DOS command prompt. What if you want to search for a cell that actually contains an asterisk or a question mark, however?

Excel allows you to search for special characters by preceding the character with the tilde (~). In other words, if you want to search for an asterisk, you would actually search for ~*. If you wanted to search for the question mark, you would search for ~? instead.

Finally, if you wanted to search for the tilde character, you would actually search for ~~. In each instance, the leading tilde informs Excel that the following character should be translated as an actual character, and not as a special wildcard character.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12616) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Searching for Wildcards.

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. ...

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What is 8 - 2?

2015-01-07 12:34:20

Mike Morris

The tilde (~) seems to no longer be the escape character in Excel 2013. I need to get rid of a bunch of asterisks, but searching for ~* finds everything, so replacing yields an empty sheet.


2014-01-15 21:59:30

Jonathan Lettington

Many thanks for this great advice.


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