Not so wild lookups [video]

Posted on February 12th, 2016 in Excel Howtos , Learn Excel - 2 comments

In case, this is the first time you are hearing about Excel formula wildcards, check out the Using wildcards in Excel VLOOKUP formula tutorial.

So you know about wild cards like * ?, now how would you tell VLOOKUP to ignore them?

Say, you are genuinely interested in looking the value “* Payroll” in a lookup table. What then?

This is exactly the problem faced by Peter in our forum post VLOOKUP and cells with “*” NOT to be interpreted as wildcard

How to deal with wildcard problem?

Of course, you can use one of the three approaches,

  1. Use formulas that ignore wildcards, like FIND() or = operator
  2. Replace wildcards with some other symbol (for ex: | or @) and do the lookups
  3. Or, just use ~ to tell Excel to ignore the wildcards

How to tell VLOOKUP to ignore the wildcards – Video

In this short video, learn how to use the ~ character to nullify the wildcard effect.

You may also watch this video on our YouTube channel.

Download the example workbook

Click here to download the example workbook for this video. Play with the data and formulas to learn more.

Other creative ways to lookup

Here at, I am always on the lookup for crazy, fun & creative lookup problems. Check out these examples to one up your lookup quotient.

What is your wildest lookup challenge?

Ever had a wild time with lookups? Late nights with naughty data, nasty lookups and ninth cup of coffee? Please share your crazy lookup experiences, tips and stories in the comments section.

Written by Chandoo
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2 Responses to “Not so wild lookups [video]”

  1. MF says:

    How to lookup only partially-matched value?? – Crazy lookup!!! | wmfexcel

    This is so far the wildest lookup i have encountered in workplace...

  2. Michael (Micky) Avidan says:

    I have a quick short comment/suggestion.
    The VLOOKUP formula =VLOOKUP(C29,$G$20:$H$31,2,FALSE) (in cell B29) should return "Nothing" because cell H31 is Empty but, instead, it returns 0.
    So, in order for it to return "Nothing" - I would add a short Suffix, such as: &"".
    This way I cover all 3 possibilities:
    Cell H31 has value, has 0, is empty.
    Michael (Micky) Avidan
    “Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
    “Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2016)

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