Excel's Find and Replace feature is a versatile tool that can help you find specific values in your workbook. You can capitalize on this feature by using wildcard characters to find values that share a similar pattern. If you know how your search value starts and/or ends, but not sure about what's in between, this is a pattern you can find using wildcard characters. In this article we're going to show you how to do a wildcard search in Excel.


How to do a wildcard search

Excel considers some characters to be wildcards when performing a custom search and there are 3 such characters. You can use 2 of them as replacement of the characters and 1 of them to ignore other wildcards.

  • ? character stands for a single character. For example, X-M?n finds both X-Men and X-Man.
  • * character stands for one or more characters. For example, s*man finds both Spider-Man and Superman
  • ~ character followed by ?, *, ~ characters search the following character without using it as a wildcard. X-M~?n finds only X-M?n.

All characters can be used in conjunction. For example; s*??n text finds Spawn as well as Spider-Man and Superman.