Saudi Tech Tips: How to Check for Partial Matches in Excel

How to Check for Partial Matches in

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Working with extensive data in a spreadsheet can be daunting, especially when searching for specific text across numerous cells. In Excel, the quest for partial matches involves overcoming certain nuances. This guide unravels several methods to efficiently check for partial matches in Excel, ensuring you navigate the complexity with ease.

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Why Seek Partial Matches in Excel?

Imagine you’ve populated a lot of cells in your spreadsheet, and now you need to pinpoint specific text strings. Manually scouring through this vast data landscape is impractical. This is where Excel’s prowess should shine, right? Well, not exactly. The conventional functions you might immediately think of for text search don’t always seamlessly integrate with the wildcards necessary for partial matching.

However, fear not, as we delve into multiple techniques to overcome this Excel quirk and successfully check for partial matches.

Checking for Partial Matches in Excel: Strategies Unveiled

1. Using IF Function:

Let’s consider a scenario where you are working on a spreadsheet and need to search for a partial match of a specific word, such as “do.” One of the best approaches to achieve this is by using the IF function. Let’s explore how to do it:

  1. Select the cell for the partial match check.
  2. Enter the formula, replacing cell references and the target text.
Formula: =IF(COUNTIF(B2,"*do*"),"Partial Text Found","No Match")
Using IF function
Using IF function
  1. Drag the formula down to apply to multiple cells.
Drag down the IF function
Drag down the IF function

This method ingeniously combines the IF function with others to make partial matches seamless.

READ ALSO: How to Extract a Number from a String in Excel

2. Leveraging MATCH Function:

Utilizing the MATCH and INDEX functions enables you to effortlessly search for a partial match in Excel and retrieve the word containing the partial match. Let see how to do this:

  1. Enter partial text in one cell and the formula in another.
  2. The formula returns the position of the first cell with the partial text.
Formula: =INDEX(D2:D21,MATCH("*"&F2&"*",D2:D21,0))
Using Match function and Index function
Using Match function and Index function
  1. Change the partial text cell for dynamic searches.

By combining MATCH with INDEX, you not only find the position but also extract the corresponding string.

3. Using SEARCH Function:

The SEARCH function monitors the location of text within a string and can be customized for conducting partial match assessments. Here’s an example demonstrating the utilization of the SEARCH function to check for a partial match for the letters “br.”

  1. Enter the formula in an empty cell, customizing the cell reference and partial text.
  2. The formula returns “Match” if the partial text is found, “No Match” otherwise.
Formula: =IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH("br",D2)),"Match","No Match")
Using the Search function
Using the Search function
  1. Drag the formula across cells for broader searches.
Drag down the SEARCH function
Drag down the SEARCH function

SEARCH, coupled with IF and ISNUMBER, offers a dynamic approach to partial match checks.

If you seek more than just the text, VLOOKUP can retrieve data from the same row based on a partial match. This technique involves scanning a column of data for the partial text you’re seeking. Upon finding a match, it fetches the value from any specified cell in that particular row.

  1. Enter the partial text cell and the formula, specifying data range and column index.
  2. The formula returns the value from the specified column where the partial match is found.
Formula: =VLOOKUP("*"&$F$4&"*",$B$4:$D$11,2,FALSE)
Using VLOOKUP function
Using VLOOKUP function
  1. Change the partial text cell to dynamically alter searches.

VLOOKUP extends beyond text extraction, offering a versatile approach to partial match checks.


Mastering the art of checking for partial matches in Excel is akin to unraveling a treasure trove of functionalities. Each method, from strategic IF blends to dynamic VLOOKUPs, serves a unique purpose. As you become proficient in these techniques, you’re equipped to handle diverse scenarios where partial matches are the key to unlocking insights within your Excel fortress.

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