SEARCH and SEARCHB locate one text string within a second text string, and return the number of the starting position of the first text string from the first character of the second text string.

 Important   SEARCH is intended for use with languages that use the single-byte character set (SBCS), whereas SEARCHB is intended for use with languages that use the double-byte character set (DBCS). The default language setting on your computer affects the return value in the following way:

  • SEARCH always counts each character, whether single-byte or double-byte, as 1, no matter what the default language setting is.
  • SEARCHB counts each double-byte character as 2 when you have enabled the editing of a language that supports DBCS and then set it as the default language. Otherwise, SEARCHB counts each character as 1.

The languages that support DBCS include Japanese, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), and Korean. For more information, see the following Help topics:




Find_text     is the text you want to find.

Within_text     is the text in which you want to search for find_text.

Start_num     is the character number in within_text at which you want to start searching.


  • Use SEARCH and SEARCHB to determine the location of a character or text string within another text string so that you can use the MID and MIDB or REPLACE and REPLACEB functions to change the text.
  • SEARCH and SEARCHB are not case sensitive. If you want to do a case sensitive search, you can use FIND and FINDB.
  • You can use the wildcard characters, question mark (?) and asterisk (*), in find_text. A question mark matches any single character; an asterisk matches any sequence of characters. If you want to find an actual question mark or asterisk, type a tilde (~) before the character.
  • If find_text is not found, the #VALUE! error value is returned.
  • If start_num is omitted, it is assumed to be 1.
  • If start_num is not greater than 0 (zero) or is greater than the length of within_text, the #VALUE! error value is returned.
  • Use start_num to skip a specified number of characters. Using SEARCH as an example, suppose you are working with the text string "AYF0093.YoungMensApparel". To find the number of the first "Y" in the descriptive part of the text string, set start_num equal to 8 so that the serial-number portion of the text is not searched. SEARCH begins with character 8, finds find_text at the next character, and returns the number 9. SEARCH always returns the number of characters from the start of within_text, counting the characters you skip if start_num is greater than 1.

Example 1: SEARCH

The example may be easier to understand if you copy it to a blank worksheet.

ShowHow to copy an example

  1. Create a blank workbook or worksheet.
  2. Select the example in the Help topic.

 Note   Do not select the row or column headers.

Selecting an example from Help

Selecting an example from Help
  1. Press CTRL+C.
  2. In the worksheet, select cell A1, and press CTRL+V.
  3. To switch between viewing the results and viewing the formulas that return the results, press CTRL+` (grave accent), or on the Formulas tab, in the Formula Auditing group, click the Show Formulas button.
Profit Margin
Formula Description (Result)
=SEARCH("e",A2,6) Position of the first "e" in the first string above, starting at the sixth position (7)
=SEARCH(A4,A3) Position of "margin" in "Profit Margin" (8)
=REPLACE(A3,SEARCH(A4,A3),6,"Amount") Replaces "Margin" with "Amount" (Profit Amount)

Example 2: SEARCHB (with your computer set to a default language that supports DBCS)

In the following example:

  • SEARCHB returns 3 because each character is counted by its bytes; the first character has 2 bytes, so the second character begins at byte 3.
  • SEARCH returns 2 because "Tokyo to Shibuya " is in the second position within the string. SEARCH returns 2 no matter what the default language setting is on your computer.

=SEARCHB("Tokyo to Shibuya ","Tokyo to Shibuya Tokyo to Shibuya Tokyo to Shibuya ") equals 3

=SEARCH("Tokyo to Shibuya ","Tokyo to Shibuya Tokyo to Shibuya Tokyo to Shibuya ") equals 2

Applies to:
Excel 2003