How to Use Wildcards to Find and Replace in Excel

By C. Taylor

Microsoft Excel's Find and Replace feature allows you to search for a particular string of text within functions or cell values. If you're uncertain of a particular string of text, you can use wildcards. Wildcards are used as place-holders when you can't specify the exact text in a string. Wildcards are usually used in conjunction with known, partial text to help locate the string within Excel cells.

Step 1

Open your spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.

Step 2

Hold the "Ctrl" key and press "H" to open the "Find and Replace" window.

Step 3

Enter the search term in the "Find what" field of the Find and Replace window.

Step 4

Add an asterisk wherever you're uncertain of a section of text. You don't need to use the asterisk wildcard to specify additional text at the beginning or end of a search term. As an example searching for "hot" will find "hot," "shot" or "hotter," even without the wildcard. However, adding the wildcard in the middle of the search text helps locate widely different text. As an example, entering "tr*p" will locate "trip" or "troop."

Step 5

Enter the replacement text under the "Replace with" field.

Step 6

Click "Replace All" to automatically find and replace all matches. Alternatively, you can click "Replace next" or "Find next" to replace or locate the next match found.