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Microsoft Excel: Use Find And Replace To Find An Asterisk

written by: Mr Excel•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 7/23/2008

Problem: Your largest customer is Wal*Mart. When you use Find or Find and Replace to search for Wal*Mart, Excel also finds Wallingsmart, as shown in Fig. 783.

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    This is because the * is seen as a wildcard character. What if you really want to search for an asterisk?


    There are three wildcard characters that can be used in the Find and Replace dialog.

    If you include an asterisk, Excel will search for any number of characters where the asterisk is located. "Wal*mart" will find "Wal*mart" but also "Walton Williams is smart".

    If you include a question mark, Excel will search for any one character. Searching for "?arl" will find both "Carl" and "Karl". To really force Excel to search for an asterisk or a question mark, precede the asterisk by a tilde (~). When you search for "Wal~*mart", Excel will only find "Wal*mart", as shown in Fig. 784. If you search for "Who~?", Excel will only find "Who?" and not "whom".

    Additional Details:

    To change all of the multiplication formulas to division formulas, ask to change all ~* to /, as shown in Fig. 785.


    When you need to search for an actual question mark or an asterisk, precede the wildcard character with a tilde.

    Commands Discussed:

    Edit – Replace; Edit – Find

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    Fig. 783Fig. 784Fig. 785