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.
Excel Wildcard Characters
When we need to match the data in Excel, we can match only if both the sets of data are identical as it is. For example, if you want to match the word “Excel” with the word “Excel 2019” we cannot match because the first word has only the part of the second word. In such situations how do we match only the part of the word? So, to deal with all these we have wildcard characters in excel. In this article, we will guide you wildcard character in excel.
What are the Wildcard Characters?
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.
Types of Excel Wildcard Characters
There are three types of wildcard characters in excel.
Type #1 – Asterisk (*)
This is to match zero or number of characters. For an 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 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.
Examples of Wildcard Characters in Excel
There can be a lot of examples regarding the wildcard characters in excel.
Example #1 – Usage of Excel Wildcard Character Asterisk (*)
As we discussed asterisk is used to match any number of characters in the sentence.
For an example look at the below data.
In the above data, we have names, with these names we have many names which have the common word “Abhishek”. So by using excel wildcard asterisk, we can count all the “Abhishek” here.
Open COUNTIF function and select the range.
In the criteria argument mention the criteria as “Abhishek*”.
That’s all this will count all the word which has “Abhishek” in it.
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 excel wildcard characters. We will see one of the examples now, below is the example data.
We have 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 VLOOKUP function in the D1 cell.
The first argument is the Lookup Value. One of the problems with 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.
Here we have applied two asterisk characters “*”&C2&”*”. Here asterisk indicates anything in between the wildcard should be matched and return the related result.
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 error value as #VALUE! because there is no word “Mintra” in the lookup table.
Example #3 – Usage of Excel Wildcard Character Question Mark (?)
As we discussed question mark can match a single character in the specified slot. For an example look at the below data.
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.
In FIND What box type “Wallstreet?Mojo” and in Replace With box type “Wallstreet Mojo”.
Click on Replace All. We will get the below result.
Wow!!! Nice isn’t it??
Here all the trick is done by excel wildcard character question mark (?). Let us take 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 excel wildcard characters we can match partial data and get the job done.
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 downloadable excel template. You may also look at these useful functions in excel –