*The tutorial provides a number of "Excel if contains" formula examples that show how to return something in another column if a target cell contains a required value, how to search with partial match and test multiple criteria with OR as well as AND logic.*

One of the most common tasks in Excel is checking whether a cell contains a value of interest. What kind of value can that be? Just any text or number, specific text, or any value at all (not empty cell).

There exist several variations of "If cell contains" formula in Excel, depending on exactly what values you want to find. Generally, you will use the IF function to do a logical test, and return one value when the condition is met (cell contains) and/or another value when the condition is not met (cell does not contain). The below examples cover the most frequent scenarios.

## If cell contains any value, then

For starters, let's see how to find cells that contain anything at all: any text, number, or date. For this, we are going to use a simple IF formula that checks for non-blank cells.

*cell*<>"",

*value_to_return*, "")

For example, to return "Not blank" in column B if column A's cell in the same row contains any value, you enter the following formula in B2, and then double click the small green square in the lower-right corner to copy the formula down the column:

`=IF(A2<>"", "Not blank", "")`

The result will look similar to this:

## If cell contains text, then

If you want to find only cells with text values ignoring numbers and dates, then use IF in combination with the ISTEXT function. Here's the generic formula to return some value in another cell if a target cell contains **any text**:

*cell*),

*value_to_return*, "")

Supposing, you want to insert the word "yes" in column B if a cell in column A contains text. To have it done, put the following formula in B2:

`=IF(ISTEXT(A2), "Yes", "")`

## If cell contains number, then

In a similar fashion, you can identify cells with numeric values (numbers and dates). For this, use the IF function together with ISNUMBER:

*cell*),

*value_to_return*, "")

The following formula returns "yes" in column B if a corresponding cell in column A contains any number:

`=IF(ISNUMBER(A2), "Yes", "")`

## If cell contains specific text

Finding cells containing certain text (or numbers or dates) is easy. You write a regular IF formula that checks whether a target cell contains the desired text, and type the text to return in the *value_if_true* argument.

*cell*="

*text*",

*value_to_return*, "")

For example, to find out if cell A2 contains "apples", use this formula:

`=IF(A2="apples", "Yes", "")`

### If cell does not contain specific text

If you are looking for the opposite result, i.e. return some value to another column if a target cell does not contain the specified text ("apples"), then do one of the following.

Supply an empty string ("") in the *value_if_true* argument, and text to return in the *value_if_false *argument:

`=IF(A2="apples", "", "Not apples")`

Or, put the "not equal to" operator in* logical_test *and text to return in *value_if_true:*

`=IF(A2<>"apples", "Not apples", "")`

Either way, the formula will produce this result:

### If cell contains text: case-sensitive formula

To force your formula to distinguish between uppercase and lowercase characters, use the EXACT function that checks whether two text strings are exactly equal, including the letter case:

`=IF(EXACT(A2,"APPLES"), "Yes", "")`

You can also input the model text string in some cell (say in C1), fix the cell reference with the $ sign ($C$1), and compare the target cell with that cell:

`=IF(EXACT(A2,$C$1), "Yes", "")`

## If cell contains specific text string (partial match)

We have finished with trivial tasks and move on to more challenging and interesting ones :) To check if a cell contains specific a given character or substring as part of the cell content, you can use one of these formulas:

**Formula 1**

*text*",

*cell*)),

*value_to_return*, "")

Working from the inside out, here is what the formula does:

- The SEARCH function searches for a text string, and if the string is found, returns the position of the first character, the #VALUE! error otherwise.
- The ISNUMBER function checks whether SEARCH succeeded or failed. If SEARCH has returned any number, ISNUMBER returns TRUE. If SEARCH results in an error, ISNUMBER returns FALSE.
- Finally, the IF function returns the specified value for cells that have TRUE in the logical test, an empty string ("") otherwise.

**Formula 2**

*cell*, "*"&"

*text*"&"*"),

*value_to_return*, "")

Here, the COUNTIF function finds out how many times a certain text appears in a cell. To count partial matches, you place the wildcard character (*) on both sides of the text. If the count is greater than zero, then IF returns the specified value, otherwise - a blank cell.

And now, let's see how this generic formula works in real-life worksheets.

### If cell contains certain text, put a value in another cell

Supposing you have a list of orders in column A and you want to find orders with a specific identifier, say "A-". The task can be accomplished with this formula:

`=IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH("A-", A2)), "Valid", "")`

or

`=IF(COUNTIF(A2, "*"&"A-"&"*"), "Valid", "")`

Instead of hardcoding the string in the formula, you can input it in a separate cell (E1), the reference that cell in your formula:

`=IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH($E$1,A2)), "Valid", "")`

or

`=IF(COUNTIF(A2, "*"&$E$1&"*"), "Valid", "")`

For the formula to work correctly, be sure to lock the address of the cell containing the string with the $ sign (absolute cell reference).

### If cell contains specific text, copy it to another column

If you wish to copy the contents of the valid cells somewhere else, simply supply the address of the evaluated cell (A2) in the *value_if_true *argument:

`=IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH($E$1,A2)),A2,"")`

The screenshot below shows the results:

### If cell contains specific text: case-sensitive formula

In both of the above examples, the formulas are case-insensitive. In situations when you work with case-sensitive data, use the FIND function instead of SEARCH to distinguish the character case.

For example, the following formula will identify only orders with the uppercase "A-" ignoring lowercase "a-".

`=IF(ISNUMBER(FIND("A-",A2)),"Valid","")`

## If cell contains, then return value – multiple conditions

A single ‘if cell contains’ statement is easy, right? But what if you need to check multiple conditions in the same formula and return different results? That is, if a cell contains some text, then return something, if it contains another text, then return something else, and so on.

To evaluate multiple conditions in a cell, you can use nested "if cell contains" statements. This allows you to create a chain of checks, with each condition leading to a specific result. Here are two generic formulas to achieve this:

**Formula 1**

Use the COUNTIF function to count how many times a certain text appears in a cell. If the count is greater than zero, then return the corresponding value. Otherwise, check the next condition.

*cell*, "*

*text1**"),

*value1*, IF(COUNTIF(

*cell*, "*

*text2**"),

*value2*, IF(COUNTIF(

*cell*, "*

*text3**"),

*value3*, "")))

**Formula 2**

Use the SEARCH function to find the position of a certain text in a cell. If the position is a number, then return the corresponding value. Otherwise, check the next condition.

*text1"*,

*cell*)),

*value1*, IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH("

*text2"*,

*cell*)),

*value2*, IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH("

*text3"*,

*cell*)),

*value3*, "")))

For example, to checks if cell A2 contains "apple", "banana" or "lemon" and return the corresponding name of the fruit in cell B3, you can use one of these formulas:

`=IF(COUNTIF(A2, "*apple*"), "Apple", IF(COUNTIF(A2, "*Banana*"), "Banana", IF(COUNTIF(A2, "*lemon*"), "Lemon", "")))`

`=IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH("apple", A2)), "Apple", IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH("banana", A2)), "Banana", IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH("lemon", A2)), "Lemon", "")))`

To fit your specific needs, you can extend the chain of conditions as necessary to handle more cases.

## If cell contains one of many text strings (OR logic)

To identify cells containing at least one of many things you are searching for, use one of the following formulas.

### IF OR ISNUMBER SEARCH formula

The most obvious approach would be to check for each substring individually and have the OR function return TRUE in the logical test of the IF formula if at least one substring is found:

*string1*",

*cell*)), ISNUMBER(SEARCH("

*string2*",

*cell*))),

*value_to_return*, "")

Supposing you have a list of SKUs in column A and you want to find those that include either "dress" or "skirt". You can have it done by using this formula:

`=IF(OR(ISNUMBER(SEARCH("dress",A2)),ISNUMBER(SEARCH("skirt",A2))),"Valid ","")`

The formula works pretty well for a couple of items, but it's certainly not the way to go if you want to check for many things. In this case, a better approach would be using the SUMPRODUCT function as shown in the next example.

### SUMPRODUCT ISNUMBER SEARCH formula

If you are dealing with multiple text strings, searching for each string individually would make your formula too long and difficult to read. A more elegant solution would be embedding the ISNUMBER SEARCH combination into the SUMPRODUCT function, and see if the result is greater than zero:

*strings*,

*cell*)))>0

For example, to find out if A2 contains any of the words input in cells D2:D4, use this formula:

`=SUMPRODUCT(--ISNUMBER(SEARCH($D$2:$D$4,A2)))>0`

Alternatively, you can create a named range containing the strings to search for, or supply the words directly in the formula:

`=SUMPRODUCT(--ISNUMBER(SEARCH({"dress","skirt","jeans"},A2)))>0`

Either way, the result will be similar to this:

To make the output more user-friendly, you can nest the above formula into the IF function and return your own text instead of the TRUE/FALSE values:

`=IF(SUMPRODUCT(--ISNUMBER(SEARCH($D$2:$D$4,A2)))>0, "Valid", "")`

#### How this formula works

At the core, you use ISNUMBER together with SEARCH as explained in the previous example. In this case, the search results are represented in the form of an array like {TRUE;FALSE;FALSE}. If a cell contains at least one of the specified substrings, there will be TRUE in the array. The double unary operator (--) coerces the TRUE / FALSE values to 1 and 0, respectively, and delivers an array like {1;0;0}. Finally, the SUMPRODUCT function adds up the numbers, and we pick out cells where the result is greater than zero.

## If cell contains several strings (AND logic)

In situations when you want to find cells containing all of the specified text strings, use the already familiar ISNUMBER SEARCH combination together with IF AND:

*string1*",

*cell*)), ISNUMBER(SEARCH("

*string2*",

*cell*))),

*value_to_return*,"")

For example, you can find SKUs containing both "dress" and "blue" with this formula:

`=IF(AND(ISNUMBER(SEARCH("dress",A2)),ISNUMBER(SEARCH("blue",A2))),"Valid ","")`

Or, you can type the strings in separate cells and reference those cells in your formula:

`=IF(AND(ISNUMBER(SEARCH($D$2,A2)),ISNUMBER(SEARCH($E$2,A2))),"Valid ","")`

As an alternative solution, you can count the occurrences of each string and check if each count is greater than zero:

`=IF(AND(COUNTIF(A2,"*dress*")>0,COUNTIF(A2,"*blue*")>0),"Valid","")`

The result will be exactly like shown in the screenshot above.

## How to return different results based on cell value

In case you want to compare each cell in the target column against another list of items and return a different value for each match, use one of the following approaches.

### Nested IFs

The logic of the nested IF formula is as simple as this: you use a separate IF function to test each condition, and return different values depending on the results of those tests.

*cell*="

*lookup_text1*", "

*return*_

*text1*", IF(

*cell*="

*lookup_text2*", "

*return*_

*text2*", IF(

*cell*="

*lookup_text3*", "

*return*_

*text3*", "")))

Supposing you have a list of items in column A and you want to have their abbreviations in column B. To have it done, use the following formula:

`=IF(A2="apple", "Ap", IF(A2="avocado", "Av", IF(A2="banana", "B", IF(A2="lemon", "L", ""))))`

For full details about nested IF's syntax and logic, please see Excel nested IF - multiple conditions in a single formula.

### Lookup formula

If you are looking for a more compact and better understandable formula, use the LOOKUP function with lookup and return values supplied as vertical array constants:

*cell*, {"

*lookup_text1*";"

*lookup_text2*";"

*lookup_text3*";…}, {"

*return*_

*text1*";"

*return*_

*text2*";"

*return*_

*text3*";…})

For accurate results, be sure to list the lookup values in **alphabetical order**, from A to Z.

`=LOOKUP(A2,{"apple";"avocado";"banana";"lemon"},{"Ap";"Av";"B";"L"})`

For more information, please see Lookup formula as an alternative to nested IFs.

### Vlookup formula

When working with a variable data set, it may be more convenient to input a list of matches in separate cells and retrieve them by using a Vlookup formula, e.g.:

`=VLOOKUP(A2, $D$2:$E$5, 2,FALSE )`

For more information, please see Excel VLOOKUP tutorial for beginners.

This is how you check if a cell contains any value or specific text in Excel. Next week, we are going to continue looking at Excel's If cell contains formulas and learn how to count or sum relevant cells, copy or remove entire rows containing those cells, and more. Please stay tuned!

## Practice workbook

Excel If Cell Contains - formula examples (.xlsx file)

## 233 comments

I need help to make a formula - IF the cell is not blank, THEN add the date into another cell. However I want the date to not change. Ie I want to be able to track when text was added to the first cell. Thanks.

Hello Kathryn!

If I understand your task correctly, this guide may be helpful: How to insert today date & current time as unchangeable time stamp

The second option is to use VBA to write the current date and time to the cell.

Perfect - thanks, I’ll give it a go.

I need formula where if i need to match a specific text, across multiple cells and if any of the cells match i need return the complete value from that cell.

Hi! You can use one of these instructions: XLOOKUP with partial match (wildcards) or VLOOKUP formula with wildcard or MATCH formula with wildcards. Use MATCH function with wildcards in INDEX MATCH formula.

Hi

I need a formula that reads a date and then moves the data of the row into a new sheet

(schedule via excel)

example if column A has 2.5.2024 move row B to sheet 2

What type of formula do I require?

Hi! If I understand the question correctly, you can search the column for the correct value and extract the corresponding row using INDEX MATCH functions. To extract not just one value, but the entire string from a range, use this instruction: Get all values in a row or column. You can correctly create references to another worksheet as described here: Excel reference to another sheet or workbook (external reference).

I hope it’ll be helpful. If this is not what you wanted, please describe the problem in more detail.