Wildcard in Excel

Excel Wildcard Characters

Wildcards in Excel are the special characters in excel which takes place of the characters in it, there are three wildcards in excel and they are asterisk, question mark, and tilde, asterisk is used to multiple numbers of characters in excel while question mark is used to represent only a single character whereas tilde is referred to the identification if the wild card character.

Wildcard characters special characters that are used to find the result, which is less than exact or accurate.

For example, if you have the word “Simple Chat,” and in the database, you have “Simply Chat,” then the common letter in these two words is “Chat,” so using excel wildcard characters, we can match these.

Wildcard in Excel

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For eg:
Source: Wildcard in Excel (wallstreetmojo.com)


There are three types of wildcard characters in excel.

Type #1 – Asterisk (*)

This is to match zero or the number of characters. For example, “Fi*” could match “Final, Fitting, Fill, Finch, and Fiasco,” etc.…

Type #2 – Question Mark (?)

This is used to match any single character. For example, “Fa? e” could match “Face” & “Fade,” “?ore” could match “Bore” & “Core,” “a?ide,” which could match “Abide” & “Aside.”

Type #3 – Tilde (~)

This is used to match wildcard characters in the word. For example, if you have the word “Hello*” to find this word, we need to frame the sentence as “Hello~*,” so here, the character tilde (~) specifies the word “Hello” as it is not followed by the wild card character.


Example #1 – Usage of Excel Wildcard Character Asterisk (*)

You can download this Wildcard Character Excel Template here – Wildcard Character Excel Template

As we discussed, an asterisk is used to match any number of characters in the sentence.

  1. For example, look at the below data.

    Wildcard in Excel Example 1

  2. In the above data, we have names, with these names, we have many names which have the common word “Abhishek.” So by using wildcard asterisk, we can count all the “Abhishek” here. Open the COUNTIF function and select the range.

    Wildcard in Excel Example 1-1

  3. In the criteria argument, mention the criteria as “Abhishek*.”

    Wildcard in Excel Example 1-2

  4. That’s all this will count all the word which has “Abhishek” in it.

    Wildcard in Excel Example 1-3

Example #2 – Partial Lookup Value in VLOOKUP

VLOOKUP requires an exact lookup value to be matched to fetch the data. This is the traditional slogan, but we can still fetch the data by using particle lookup value. For example, if the lookup value is “VIVO” and in the main table, if it is “VIVO Mobile,” we can still match using wildcard characters. We will see one of the examples now. Below is the example data.

Wildcard in Excel Example 2

We have a Lookup Table in column A. In column C, we have lookup values. These lookup values are not exactly the same as the lookup table values. So we will see how to apply VLOOKUP using wild cards.

First, open the VLOOKUP functionVLOOKUP FunctionThe VLOOKUP excel function searches for a particular value and returns a corresponding match based on a unique identifier. A unique identifier is uniquely associated with all the records of the database. For instance, employee ID, student roll number, customer contact number, seller email address, etc., are unique identifiers. read more in the D1 cell.

Wildcard in Excel Example 2-1

The first argument is the Lookup Value. One of the problems with the lookup value here is we don’t have an exact match, so we need to enclose this lookup value with an asterisk before and after the lookup value.

Wildcard in Excel Example 2-2

Here we have applied two asterisk characters “*”&C2&”*.” Here asterisk indicates anything in between the wildcard should be matched and return the related result.

Wildcard in Excel Example 2-3

Even though we had just “Infosys” asterisk character matched the value in the lookup table and returned the exact result as “Infosys Ltd.”

Similarly, in cell D6, we got the error value as #VALUEError Value As #VALUE#VALUE! Error in Excel represents that the reference cell the user has either entered an incorrect formula or used a wrong data type (mostly numerical data). Sometimes, it is difficult to identify the kind of mistake behind this error.read more! Because there is no word “Mintra” in the lookup tableLookup TableLookup tables are simply named tables that are used in combination with the VLOOKUP function to find any data in a large data set. We can select the table and name it, and then type the table's name instead of the reference to look up the value.read more.

Example #3 – Usage of Excel Wildcard Character Question Mark (?)

As we discussed, the question mark can match a single character in the specified slot. For example, look at the below data.

Question Mark (?) Example 3

In the above data, our ideal value should be “Wallstreet Mojo,” but we have several special characters in between. So we will use the question mark to replace all of those.

Select the data and press Ctrl + H.

Question Mark (?) Example 3-1

In FIND What box type “Wallstreet?Mojo” and in Replace With box type “Wallstreet Mojo.”

Question Mark (?) Example 3-2

Click on Replace All. We will get the below result.

Question Mark (?) Example 3-3

Wow!!! Nice, isn’t it??

Here all the trick is done by excel wildcard character question mark (?). Let us take a look at what we have mentioned.

Find What: “Wallstreet?Mojo”

Replace With: “Wallstreet Mojo”

So, after the word Wallstreet any character comes should be replaced by the space character. So all the special characters are replaced by a space character, and we will have a proper value of “Wallstreet Mojo.”

Like this, by using wildcard characters, we can match partial data and get the job done.

Recommended Articles

This has been a guide to Wildcard in Excel. Here we discuss the 3 different types of wildcard characters – Asterisk (*), Question Mark(?) & Tilde(~) in excel along with examples and a downloadable excel template. You may also look at these useful functions in excel –

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