How to Use Excel's FIND Function

By Techwalla Computers Editor

When using a spreadsheet application like Microsoft Excel, finding individual pieces of data can be daunting, especially if a workbook contains enormous amounts of information. Programmers foresaw such problems and created helpful formulas to assist users in finding particular strings of text. One such aid is the FIND formula.

Step 1

Know what the FIND function does. FIND returns the starting position of one text string within another text string. It displays the result of the formula as a number, which indicates at which character the searched string starts. Please note that the FIND formula is case-sensitive, so if you're looking for the word "baby," but the spreadsheet data only contains the word "BABY," the FIND formula doesn't recognize the uppercase representation.

Step 2

Complete the correct syntax of the FIND function, which is: = FIND (Find_Text, Within_Text, Start_Num). Find_Text means what it says. It's the text for which you're searching. Within_Text asks which text string or cell reference should be searched. Start_Num is an optional value. If left blank, it's equal to "1." If you enter a number, it tells Excel to start at another position besides the first character of Within_Text.

Step 3

Use the FIND function. You may enter strings of text (in quotation marks) or cell references such as B10. Say cell B10 contains the words, "Gone With the Wind." If you enter = FIND ("the", B10), Excel returns "11," because the word "the" begins in the eleventh position of the text of string in cell B10. The formula = FIND ("the", "Gone With the Wind") returns the same result.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you search for a phrase and Excel doesn't find it, whether the string doesn't exist or the text case doesn't match, Excel returns a "#VALUE" error message.