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How to vlookup wildcard (~, *, ?) literally in Excel?

Author: Kelly Last Modified: 2020-01-09

For example, you want to vlookup a value with wildcard, says Apple* in Excel. The formula =VLOOKUP("Apple*",A1:D24,4,FALSE) won’t return the correct result because the asterisk * represents any series of characters, such as Appleavcs. But, you may just want to vlookup Apple* literally. How to solve it? Below methods will help you get it done:


Vlookup value containing wildcard (~, *, ?) literally with formula

We can combine the VLOOKUP function and SUBSTITUTE function to vlookup value containing wildcards literally easily. Please do as follows:

Enter below formula into a blank cell, and press the Enter key.

=VLOOKUP(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(SUBSTITUTE(F2,"~","~~"),"?","~?"),"*","~*"),A1:D24,4,FALSE)

In above formula:

  • F2 is the lookup value
  • A1:D24 is the array table you will search for the lookup value from
  • 4 means it will look for the target value from the fourth column in the array table
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And then the value matched the lookup value has been found out from the array table. See screenshot:

Quickly apply the VLOOKUP function and ignore errors in Excel

The VLOOKUP function will return 0 if the matched value does not exist, or return #N/A error occurring by various reasons in Excel. To ignoring the VLOOKUP errors, you may need to modify the VLOOKUP formulas one by one manually. Here, with the Replace 0 or #N/A with Blank or a Specified Value feature of Kutools for Excel, you can easily avoid returning errors values.


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Vlookup value containing wildcard (~, *, ?) literally with Kutools for Excel

The combined formula is too complex to remember? Don’t worry! This method recommend Kutools for Excel’s Select Specific Cells utility to easily vlookup value containing wildcards literally from the selected range easily.

Kutools for Excel - Packed with over 300 essential tools for Excel. Enjoy a full-featured 30-day FREE trial with no credit card required! Download now!

1. Select the range you will vlookup value containing wildcards, and click Kutools > Select > Select Specific Cells. See screenshot:

2. In the opening Select Specific Cells dialog box, (1) please check the Entire row option in the Selection type section; (2) select the Equals from the first drop down list in the Specific type section, (3) type the value with wildcard into following box, (4) and click the Ok button. See screenshot above:

3. A dialog box comes out and shows how many cells (rows) have been found out and selected. Please click the OK button to close it. See screenshot:

And now the row containing the specified value with wildcard has been selected. And you can easily get the target value from the certain column. See screenshot:


Vlookup multiple values containing wildcard (~, *, ?) literally with Kutools for EXCEL

Sometimes, you may need to vlookup many values containing wildcard literally from selected range in Excel at the same time. In this case, you can try Kutools for Excel’s Select Same & Different Cells utility to archive it easily!

Kutools for Excel - Packed with over 300 essential tools for Excel. Enjoy a full-featured 30-day FREE trial with no credit card required! Download now!

1. Type the values with wildcards you will vlookup in a column, and click Kutools > Select > Select Same & Different Cells to open the Compare Ranges dialog box.
Note: In our case we type three values with wildcards in the Range F2:F4.
doc select same different cells

doc select same different cells 3464

2. In the Compare Ranges dialog box, please do as left screenshot shown::

(1) Specify the column you will search for values with wildcard into the Find values in box;
(2) Specify the column you just entered the values with wildcards into the According to box;
(3) Check the Each row option in the Based on section;
(4) Check the Same Values option;
(5) Check the Fill backcolor option, and specify a fill color from below drop down list;
(6) Check the Select entire rows option.
(7) Click the Ok button.

3. Another Compare Ranges dialog box pops out and shows how many rows have been selected. Just click the OK button to close it.

And now entire rows containing the specified values with wildcards have been highlighted. And you can easily get the matched values from the certain column (the Amount column in our case). See screenshot:


Demo: vlookup wildcard (~, *, ?) literally in Excel


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