Count cells if starts with a, b or c in range in Excel

In this article, we will learn how to Check values which start with either A, B or C using wildcards in Excel.
In simple words, while working with table values, sometimes we need to check the value in cell whether it starts with A, B or C. Example if we need to find the check of a certain ID value starts with either A, B or C. Criteria inside the formula executed using the operators. 

How to solve the problem ?

For this article we will be required to use the COUNTIF function. Now we will make a formula out of the function. Here we are given some values in a range and specific text value as criteria. We need to count the values where the formula checks for the value which starts with either A, B or C.

Generic formula:

= SUM ( COUNTIF ( cell value, { "A*" , "B*" , "C*" } ) ) > 0

Cell value : value where condition is checked.

* : wildcards which find any number of characters within a given cell.

A* : given text or pattern to look for. Use pattern directly in the formula or else if you using cell reference for the pattern use the other formula shown below.


All of these might be confusing to understand. So, let's test this formula via running it on the example shown below.

Here we have the ID records and we need to find the IDs which starts with either A, B or C.  

Here to find the category IDs which starts with either A , B or C, will be using the * (asterisk) wildcard in the formula. * (asterisk) wildcard finds any number of characters within lookup value.

Use the formula:

= SUM ( COUNTIF ( C3 , { "A*" , "B*" , "C*" } ) ) >0


  • COUNTIF function checks the value which matches with either of the pattern stated in the formula
  • Criteria is given in using * (asterisk) wildcard to look for value which has any number of characters.
  • COUNTIF function returns an array to the SUM function matching either of the values.
  • SUM function adds up all the values and checks whether the sum comes out to be greater than 0 or not.

Here the range is given as array reference and pattern is given as cell reference. Press Enter to get the count.

As you can see the formula returns TRUE for the value in C3 cell. Now copy the formula in other cells using the drag down option or using the shortcut key Ctrl + D as shown below.

As you can see all the TRUE values indicate the cell value starts with either of mentioned pattern and all the FALSE values states there is the cell value starts with neither of mentioned pattern.


You can check which values start with a specific pattern in range using the excel filter option. Apply the filter to the ID header and click the arrow button which appears. Follow the steps as shown below. 


  1. Select the ID header cell. Apply filter using shortcut Ctrl + Shift + L
  2. Click the arrow which appeared as a filter option.
  3. Deselect (Select All) option.
  4. Now search in search box using the * (asterisk) wildcard.
  5. Type A* in the search box and select the required values or select the (Select All search result) option as shown in the above gif.
  6. Do it for the other two values and get the count of all three which is equal to the result returned by the formula.

As you can see in the above gif all the 6 values which match the given pattern. This also means the formula works fine to get to check the values
Here are some observational notes shown below.


  1. The formula only works with numbers and text both
  2. Operators like equals to ( = ), less than equal to ( <= ), greater than ( > ) or not equals to ( <> ) can be performed within function applied with numbers only.

Hope this article about how to Check values which start with either A , B or C using wildcards in Excel is explanatory. Find more articles on COUNTIF functions here. If you liked our blogs, share it with your fristarts on Facebook. And also you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We would love to hear from you, do let us know how we can improve, complement or innovate our work and make it better for you. Write us at
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