Excel FIND Function – You Can Run But You Cannot Hide!

The Excel FIND Function is great for locating the starting point of your desired text within another string of text. It is another one of the most used functions that is great to know, when you need to locate specific text within a long string of characters.


Description of the Excel FIND Function:

The Excel FIND Function will locate one text string within a second text string, and return the number of the starting position of the first text string from the first character of the second text string.

The string "Excel Functions" has 15 characters in it, including the space. The E would be character 1, the X character 2, the C character 3, and so on, until the end of the string.


Excel FIND Function:

Syntax of the Excel FIND Function:

  • FIND(find_this_text, within_this_text, [start_position])
  • find_this_text (Required) - This is the text you are trying to locate.
  • within_this_text (Required) - The string containing the text you are looking for.
  • start_position (Optional) - Determines what character to start searching at. The first character in the string of text is number 1. If you omit this argument then the function will start searching at the 1st character.
  • This function is Case Sensitive, so if the find_this_text argument is uppercase and the within_this_text argument does not contain that uppercase letter, then the function will return an error of #VALUE!.
  • This function does NOT allow the use of Wildcards, such as the ? (question mark), to substitute a single character, or the * (asterisk), to substitute multiple characters.
  • If you need your search to be Case Insensitive or you need to use Wildcards, because you just don't know what characters to search for, then you will want to use the
    Excel SEARCH Function instead.

Examples:

  • =FIND("r", "railroad") = 1 - (Finds the lowercase R, starting at the 1st character)
  • =FIND("r", "railroad", 2) = 5 - (Finds the lowercase R, starting from the 2nd character)
  • =FIND("R", "railroad") = #VALUE! - (There is no uppercase R in the string)
  • =FIND("ro", "railroad") = 5 - (Returns the starting position for the given 2 letters)
Excel FIND Function

Download The Example Spreadsheet Here:

The Excel FIND Function


Why use the Excel FIND Function?

The Excel FIND Function is useful when you need to locate the starting point of a word or a set of words, in a long string of characters. Once you have the starting point, you can use other functions to pull out the data you need.

Conclusion

While this function can be useful, it is a bit restrictive being that it is Case Sensitive and does not allow for the use of Wildcards to find the data. Maybe these restrictions are necessary in some cases, but I would think that most of the time they would be more of a hindrance. If you prefer the restrictions then by all means use this function, but if you find them too difficult to get around, then you will want to use the Excel SEARCH Function instead.

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Joe Austin
 

Joe Austin is the founder of Potentials Unleashed. He is currently an IT Professional Manager in the Financial Industry and has been using computers since 1978. While mostly self-taught, he is proficient in several computing areas, such as Programming , Web Development, most Microsoft Office programs, Internet Marketing, Spyware / Malware Removal and even 3D Animation & Modeling.

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