How to Search for Words and Names in Excel Sheet

If you’re always working with Excel workbooks with multiple worksheets containing rows and columns of information, finding relevant data can be overwhelming and stressful. 😩

But with Microsoft Excel’s Find feature, it doesn’t have to be.

This feature allows you to search and locate something in your Excel workbook, such as a particular number or text string, quickly and easily. 🔍

Once you’ve located a particular word or name, you can also replace it with something else.

Amazing, right?

To start, download this sample Excel workbook to follow the step-by-step tutorial below.

How to Search in Excel Step-by-Step

Open the sample Excel workbook and you’ll find sample data in the worksheet.

Step 1: Access Find and Replace

To search or find something in your Excel sheet, you need to access the Find feature first.

To do that,

Step 1.1) Go to the Home Tab.

Excel spreadsheet

Step 1.2) In the Editing group, click the Find & Select button.

Excel Find & Select button

Step 1.3) Click Find in the options.

Find options

This will open the Find and Replace dialog box.

Find and Replace dialog box

Pro tip

To immediately open the Find and Replace dialog box, just press Ctrl + F on your keyboard.⚡

Step 2: Enter a word or name

Now that the Find and Replace dialog box is open, enter a word or name, or any text string you’re trying to find in your Excel worksheet.

Step 2.1) Make sure you’re clicking the Find Tab.

Step 2.2) In the Find what box, type the word or name. In our example, type the word “cell”

Find text in search box

You can type any word or name in the Find What box. Aside from a simple text string, you can also:

  • Use wildcard characters — question mark (?), asterisk (*), tilde (~) — in your search criteria.
  • Use the question mark (?) to find any single character — for example, s?t finds “sat” and “set”.
  • Use the asterisk (*) to find any number of characters — for example, s*d finds “sad” and “started”.
  • Use the tilde (~) followed by ?, *, or ~ to find question marks, asterisks, or other tilde characters — for example, fy91~? finds “fy91?”.

For our tutorial, let’s keep it simple and find a word or text string. 😊

Step 3: Run your search (Find All or Find Next?)

Once you’ve already typed the word you wanted to search, press Enter to run your search. This will automatically select the first cell that contains the text string you’re searching for.

To find other cells containing the same text string, you can click the Find All or Find Next buttons.

Step 3.1) First, let’s click the Find Next button.

Find next button

If you click the Find Next button again, it will show the next cells that contain the word “cell” in it.

Keep clicking this button until you find the specific cell you want.

If you don’t like clicking your way to find that particular text string, you can use the Find All button.

Step 3.4) Click the Find All button.

This will show you every occurrence of the word or name you’re searching for as a list. It will show you the Book, Sheet, Name, Cell, Value listed like this.

Step 3.5) When you select a specific occurrence in the list, this selects its cell in the worksheet.

specific cell with search term

Step 4: Refine your Search

If your initial search is too broad or unsuccessful, you can make use of the options to refine your search.

The Options button is located at the bottom right corner of the Find and Replace dialog box.

advanced search options

When you click the Options button, the Find and Replace dialog box expands and shows the options that you can use to refine your research.

search specific cell with conditional formatting

The options are:

  • Within: To search for data in a worksheet or in an entire workbook, select Sheet or Workbook.
  • Search: You can choose to search either By Rows (default), or By Columns.
  • Look in: To search for data with specific details, in the box, select Formulas, Values, Notes, or Comments.
  • Match case – Check this if you want to search for case-sensitive data.
  • Match entire cell contents – Check this if you want to search for cells that contain only the characters that you typed in the Find what box.

Note: Formulas, Values, Notes, and Comments are available only on the Find tab; only Formulas are available on the Replace tab.

Kasper Langmann, co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Narrow your search by formatting

Excel also allows you to narrow your search even further to find the relevant data with specific formatting.

For example, you can find text strings with italicized text or centered alignment, or a red fill color, and many more.

Here’s how to search by formatting. 👇

Step 1) Press Ctrl + F to open the Find and Replace Dialog Box.

Step 2) Click the Find Format button. This will open the Find Format dialog box.

advanced search by formatting

For this example, let’s try to Find Format by Fill color.

Step 3) Click the Fill Tab of the Find Format dialog box.

Step 4) Click the Fill color of the cell you’re trying to find.

Search fill color formatting

Step 5) Click OK.

click OK

Step 6) Finally, click Find Next (or Find All).

It selects the cells which contains the formatting you’re searching for.

search by formatting

Did you know that Microsoft Excel has a FIND and SEARCH functions? 💡 Learn more about this amazing Excel functions by clicking this article.

Kasper Langmann, co-founder of Spreadsheeto

That’s It—Now What?

The search is finally over! 😉

Finding data in Excel doesn’t have to be overwhelming or stressful. With Excel’s find feature, the data you’re searching for is a few clicks away.

If you want to find out more about Excel, then these next articles are for you: