How to Use Wildcard Characters to Find Certain Values in Excel

We will always use the find feature in Excel. And here we will talk about the usage of wildcard characters in Excel.

If you need to find certain values without knowing the exact characters in Excel, you can use the wildcard characters. There are several wildcard characters in Excel. And in the following text, we will introduce them in detail.

Asterisk (*)

The asterisk represents any number of characters in Excel. In the image below, if you want to find the job numbers with the beginning of “2015”, you can use this character.An Example for Wildcard Characters

  1. Press the shortcut key combo “Ctrl + F” on the keyboard.
  2. And then in the “Find and Replace” window, input the elements into the text box:


Click Find All

  1. Next click the button “Find All” on the bottom. Thus, all the cells with the beginning of “2015” will appear in the window.Cells Appear

Therefore, if you want to find the values without knowing the numbers of character, you can use this character.

Question Mark (?)

You can use the question mark to represent any single character. Suppose you want to find Sophia’s job number. Her number is end with “0002” but you don’t know the year of the beginning. Thus, you can use this mark to find the cell.

  1. Press the shortcut key combo “Ctrl + F” on the keyboard.
  2. Then input the character into the text box:


  1. And then click “Find All”. And the result will also appear in the window.Find with Question Mark

You can see that there are 2 cells. Thus, you can find your target easily according to the corresponding column.

Find Asterisk and Question Mark

Now if you want to find the asterisk and question mark themselves, you need to use the tilde (~) before the character.

  1. Press “Ctrl + F”.
  2. And then in the window, input these elements:


Here is an example of finding the question mark. If you want to fine the asterisk, you need to enter the “~” in front of the “*”.

  1. Next click “Find All” or the “Find Next” button. And then the cell with the value of “?” will be found.

Find with Tilde

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Author Introduction:

Anna Ma is a data recovery expert in DataNumen, Inc., which is the world leader in data recovery technologies, including word recovery and outlook repair software products. For more information visit

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