Identifying Digit-Only Part Numbers Excluding Special Characters

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 23, 2024)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Chris has a large number of cells that contain part numbers. These cells can contain either digits or characters, in any combination. They can also contain special characters such as dashes, slashes, and spaces. Chris needs a way to identify if a cell contains only digits, without taking the special characters into account. Thus, a cell containing 123-45 would show as containing only digits, while 123AB-45 would not.

The easiest way to figure out if a given cell contains only the allowable characters and digits is to use a formula that removes the non-digit permissible characters and then sees if the resulting value is numeric. All of the following formulas can do the trick quite nicely:


You could also use a simple macro to figure out if a cell contains only digits and your allowed characters. While there are any number of ways that such a macro could be approached, here's a rather easy method:

Function DigitsOnly(sRaw As String) As Boolean
    Dim X As Integer
    Const sAllowed As String = "0123456789 -/"

    For X = 1 To Len(sRaw)
       If InStr(sAllowed, Mid(sRaw, X, 1)) = 0 Then Exit For
    Next X
    DigitsOnly = False
    If X > Len(sRaw) Then DigitsOnly = True
End Function

The macro examines whatever is passed to it, comparing each character in the string to a list of allowed characters (in the constant sAllowed). If a disallowed character is detected, the loop is exited early and a False value is returned. Thus, if you wanted to evaluate the cell at A1, you could use the following in your macro:


Since they return either True or False values, any of these approaches (formula or user-defined function) could be used in conjunction with conditional formatting to make formatting changes to your part numbers.


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 (12654) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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 eight more than 2?

2024-03-28 15:26:35

J. Woolley

Re. my most recent comment below, VBA's Like operator supports limited patterns but a regular expression has more features. Therefore, all these cell formulas match the Tip's DigitsOnly(A1) result
    =NOT(IsRegEx(A1,"[^0-9 /-]+"))
    =NOT(IsRegEx(A1,"[^0123456789 /-]+"))
    =NOT(IsLike(A1,"*[!0123456789 /-]*"))
    =NOT(IsLike(A1,"*[!0-9 /-]*"))

2024-03-27 17:49:27

J. Woolley

My Excel Toolbox now includes the following IsRegEx function for convenient use of VBScript.RegExp to compare Text with a regular expression Pattern:

Public Function IsRegEx(Text As String, Pattern As String) As Boolean
    With CreateObject("VBScript.RegExp")
        .Pattern = Pattern
        IsRegEx = .Test(Text)
    End With
End Function

Reviewing my previous comment below, these cell formulas match the Tip's DigitsOnly(A1) result
    =NOT(IsRegEx(A1,"[^0123456789 /-]+"))
    =NOT(IsLike(A1,"*[!0123456789 /-]*"))
and these cell formulas help Chris identify cells with part numbers having one or more digits but no letters

2024-03-25 20:48:02


The regular expression [^\d] matches any data that contains a character that is NOT a digit. This can be implemented with a macro:

Function NotDigits(PartNum) As Boolean
Dim regex
Set regex = CreateObject("VBScript.RegExp")
regex.Pattern = "[^\d]"
NotDigits= regex.Test(PartNum)
End Function

2024-03-24 10:23:00

J. Woolley

Here is a another version of the Tip's DigitsOnly function:

Function DigitsOnly2(Text As String) As Boolean
    DigitsOnly2 = Not Text Like "*[!0123456789 /-]*"
End Function

And here is a more general version that returns TRUE only when a cell's text includes a digit and does not include a letter; Chris might find this more useful:

Function DigitsOnly3(Text As String) As Boolean
    DigitsOnly3 = Text Like "*#*" And Not Text Like "*[a-zA-Z]*"
End Function

My Excel Toolbox includes the following IsLike function for convenient use of VBA's Like operator in a cell formula:

Public Function IsLike(Text As String, Pattern As String) As Boolean
    IsLike = Text Like Pattern
End Function

Therefore, this cell formula matches the result from DigitsOnly2(A1)
    =NOT(IsLike(A1,"*[!0123456789 /-]*"))
and this cell formula matches the result from DigitsOnly3(A1)

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