How to lookup cells having certain text and returns the Certain Text in Excel

Certain text 2

In this article, we will learn how to lookup a certain text and returns the certain text using Excel functions.

How to solve the problem?

If we need to find a text string in Excel, if cell contains the same text. Use a combination of the following functions in Excel.

IFERROR function

SEARCH function

IF function


  1. SEARCH function returns the position index of the find text, within text.
  2. IF function checks the if SEARCH function returns a number, then it returns the lookup text
  3. IFERROR function returns a value "No", wherever text is not found.



Let’s look at this table below, here we took some strings. We have some text words to run the formula as example:

Certain text

Use the formula under the TEXT column


Substring or certain text : tain
The SEARCH function searches for the text "tain" in the words. If it finds the text "tain" in the cell, it returns the position of the text in the words cell. In cell C4, we have text "Mountain".  It contains the sub-string "tain" at position 5. Now the formula drops down to this IFERROR(IF(5,"tain"),"No"). IF function treats any value greater than 0 as TRUE. Hence we obtained the result as "tain".

If the SEARCH function unable to find the text, it would result #VALUE! error. This would have caused the entire IF function to result in #VALUE! error. If the inner expression results in error, the IFERROR function comes into action and returns the specified result for an error, which is a "NO" here.

Copy the formula in other cells, select the cells taking the first cell where the formula is already applied, use shortcut key Ctrl+ D.

Certain text 2

As you can see the words which contain the substring, returns the substring or else it returns No.

Only Check If a Cell Contains a Given Substring

If you just want to check if the given cell contains the specified string or not, you can strip out IFERROR and IF function from the above function and encapsulate SEARCH function with ISNUMBER function.

=ISNUMBER(SEARCH(“specific text”,”source text”)

This will return a TRUE if the cell contains the specified text and FALSE if it does not.

The technique is the same as the above formula. The ISNUMBER function returns to TRUE if it is supplied with a numeric value. Else it returns false.

Hope you learned how to search with the use of SEARCH, IF and IFERROR.You can perform these tasks in Excel 2013 and 2010. Find more articles on search text here. Please do mention your views or questions below in the comment box. We will help you.

For more example click here

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Users are saying about us...

  1. I copied the formula: =IFERROR(IF(SEARCH(“*tain*”,A2,1),”tain”),”No”)
    into cell b3, and after hitting return, got an Excel error "The formula you typed contains an error."

    • Hi Mike,

      After copy the formula in Excel please overwrite the quotation mark (") with quotation mark (") then press enter. you will get the appropriate result.

      • Julie, Mike's cousin

        May I suggest that it would be helpful to explain why you advise this? The computer converted the quotation marks in your answer to "smart" quotes, so I believe the spirit of the answer was lost. In the formula on this page, the quotation marks are word processed quotations rather than the quotation mark as typed by the keyboard. Excel formulas require the regular quotation mark rather than the nice looking quotation marks. Thanks!

    • Not wishing to be the only one to state the obvious, are you sure this is correct?
      There is no data in cell rage A2 to A7 in the examples above.
      The data is in cells A5 to A10!

  2. How would I do this in a nested formula? Say if I had three categories
    not 2. ie if search tain then call it 'tain', if search tra then call it tra if none found call it no


    • Hi Craig,

      You can use below formula to solve your problem:-


      Site Admin

      • How would you use this formula to search a range of fields - and if any of the fields contained specified text you would return XYZ text result?

      • What if you have 100's of criteria which bring up multiple regions. Would you have to do a very large formula or is there a quicker way?

      • I was trying to get the formula to return three different statements but it hangs up at =IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH(“tain”,J7,1))=TRUE,”tain”,IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH(“tra”,J7,1))=TRUE,”tra”,”No”)) the second IF(ISNUMBER and thinks that the rest is for untrue so it just returns #NAME?. Also I would like it to return a blank cell if there is nothing in the first cell.

        • Hi Eric,
          You don't need True in formula. Try this formula.

  3. Also in nested formula, I have 4 categories. If there is a prefix PSERI, it should be called Maintenance, prefix of PSI will be called Sales and SER & S-INV will be called Unposted. Is this possible and how?

  4. I am trying o use the formula across sheet in a workbook but with no luck !!!
    If in the sheet ISS Server Column I I have Microsoft windows server 2003 write in the sheet sheet2 the column A to I from ISS Server..

    =IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH("*Microsoft Windows Server 2003*",'ISS Servers'!H2)),'ISS Servers!H2'," ")
    any idea?


  5. What if I want to find multiple values in the original cell? Such as two years listed at different points in the text string...

  6. trying to search for 3 key words within text and return the found word back to another cell...using this formula.


    Excel won't allow it, what am I missing?

  7. Stephanie Rivera

    I am trying to do this in Google Sheets and it's not working. Normally they are pretty much the same with their formulas.


    My question is, why are you putting the 1 in there?
    And also why do you think mine isn't working?
    If cell A9 starts with letter T, I want the other cell to say "Trial"
    If cell A9 starts with letter C, I want the other cell to say "MC"

  8. Hi Guys,

    In reference to the above example where the word "tain" is to be displayed, I have a list of 50-100 keywords, as in apple, orange, kiwi...etc 50-100 words.

    If these keywords are found in a specific column then that keyword should be displayed in another column. Also, this list is subject to change by users as input.

    I guess this can be resolved using a VBA.

    Thanks in advance.

  9. Hello,

    I have some text in one cell like (ACC_MS_21x5_INC-Rsln-P3-ERP-EBS) I put your formula =IFERROR(IF(SEARCH("P3",A1,1),”P3”),”No”) according to my need, Here I want If the cell text contains P3 then I need to put value P3 in another column. But it throwing an error. Could you please let me know issue?

    Thanks in advance.

    • It should work. If it is returning #NAME error then Try replacing ” with " in formula. It will work.

  10. Hello.

    I am trying to figure out a formula which will help me do the following: in a certain cell i would like to search a keyword only in the first 4 characters. if the keyword is found in those 4 characters, the formula will return the cell without the 4 characters.

    Thank you in advance.

  11. I need to copy corresponding value of the cell

    Eg: Instead of =IFERROR(IF(SEARCH(“1*”,A2,1),”tain”),”No”)
    I need to copy the whole value of A2 in the cell.

    Any Idea?? Please help

  12. i have a sentence in column DA row 1 " information is in abc.pdf" similarly in multiple rows of same column. need a macro to extract file name with .pdf of column DA

  13. I have 5 sheets, 5th sheet has a list a1-a27 that have been put into a drop down list from sheets 1-4, each a1-a27 have a result listed in b1-b27. How do i create if formula for if one of the a column is listed then b column is shown in a located cell on sheets 1-4?

  14. Hayley Cunningham

    Can anyone help please. I am using excel to summarise contractual clauses and want to create a formula to identify if various versions of a search word are contained within a specificic cell. In the below instance I was trying to create a formula to idenfify if cell A6 contains either 'Indemnity' or indemnities:


    The formula came up with an error though, is anyone able to help guide me as to where i'm going wrong please? The above formula came up with an error.

  15. Hi. I want to search a cell for multiple possible similar words, and return a value "1" if any of those words are in that text, and a value "0" if none of those words are there. EG "IF cell A2 contains Happy or Smiling or Joyful or Cheerful, then value = 1, otherwise value = 0". Is that possible? Thanks.

  16. Hello, I want a text in one cell after checking three different words.
    e.g. if a row contains Javier B1, Ela A1and Sam C1, I want to segregate the A1, B1 and C1 text in one cell beside them
    Javier B1 B1
    Ela A1 A1
    Sam C1 C1
    But the formula should contain the comparison for all the three variants(A1, B1, and C1)
    Is it possible?

  17. Girish kumar Metlapalli

    Suppose in excel if my answer is yes then the cells selected should be able to enter any text i want to enter and,
    if the answer in the cell is No, then the selected cells answer should be No.

  18. Hi everyone, I have a small problem with a vba formula to create with excel.
    I state that I am not able to create vba, but I was looking for information with which to be able to create it. I hope you can help me I would be really grateful.

    I expose the problem:

    I would like to enter a formula that:

    The moment I enter a particular name in one cell, other names I decide appear in other cells. It's possible to do it?

  19. I use an excel sheet for vehicle servicing. Column C shows service due date, column D shows next service date =C3+42 , How would I get c3 to show date in D3 if the letter D was inputted into cell G3

    • Hi there,

      You can use this formula in D3

      This will only enter the formula C3+42 in D3 if the column G3 has letter D in it. Else nothing ("") will be shown in D3.

  20. how so i extract data from a roster and covert it to a summarized table. For example 10 person 2 group in a duty roster. i need to convert the two roster to a summarize table on who and who on AM shift or night shift on specific date...thank you very much if you can help

  21. If I wanted to find the word CRIT within column D, and if found, check to see if column J is empty, and if so, enter 99999 there, how might I accomplish that? Thanks! Your site is very helpful!

  22. Hi,
    How can i achieve this assuming i have a table in excel containing


    Then if i have multiple figures that i consider as materials they all add up to cell of material, same case to labour and transport?

  23. Hi . How i can check the specific word. Each table has a column with an address, but the address is presented in each table differently (for example, in one: “Street Leonardo 10”, in the other: “Street Leonardo Building 10”, in the third: “ROME LEONARDO 10”, etc. d.). It is necessary to make one of all tables, where in one row there will be data from all the original tables with the same (in meaning) address. Leonardo 10

    • Check for the word that you are certain that the cell will contain. The example you have given implies that the word "leonardo" word is common in all the address lines.
      So this formula may work,
      =IFERROR(IF(SEARCH("*Leonardo*",A1,1),"Leonardo 10"),A1)

      if the original text starts from A1, write this formula in cell B1 and copy it down. it will put "Leonardo 10" for every cell it found "Leonardo" in in A column.

      If you are not sure of the spellings, use just "leo" or "Nardo" to search.

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