# Cell contains one of many things

=SUMPRODUCT(--ISNUMBER(SEARCH(things,A1)))>0

If you want to test a cell to see if it contains one of several things, you can do so with a formula that uses the SEARCH function, with help from the ISNUMBER and SUMPRODUCT functions.

### Context

Let's say you have a list of text strings in the range B5:B11, and you want to test each cell against another list of things in the named range "things" E5:E9. In other words, for each cell in B5:B11, you want to know: does this cell contain any of the things in E5:E9?

You could start build a big formula based on nested IF statements, but that won't be any fun at all, especially if the list of things you want to check for is large.

### Solution

The solution is to to create a formula that can test for multiple values and return a list of TRUE / FALSE values. Once we have that, we can process that list (an array, actually) with SUMPRODUCT.

The formula we're using looks like this:

=SUMPRODUCT(--ISNUMBER(SEARCH(things,B5)))>0

### How this formula works

The key is this snippet:

This is based on another formula (explained in detail here) that simply checks a cell for a single substring. If the cell contains the substring, the formula returns TRUE. If not, the formula returns FALSE.

However, if we give the same formula a list of things (in this case, we are using a named range called "things", E5:E11) it will give us back a list of TRUE / FALSE values. The result is actually an array that looks like this:

{TRUE;FALSE;FALSE;FALSE;FALSE}

Notice that if we have even one TRUE in the array, we know a cell contains at least one thing in the list. So, we can force the TRUE / FALSE values to 1s and 0s with a double negative (--, also called a double unary):

which yields an array like this:

{1;0;0;0;0}

Now we process the result with SUMPRODUCT, which will add up the entire array. We know if we get a non-zero result, we have a "hit", so we use >0 to force a final result of either TRUE or FALSE.

=SUMPRODUCT(--ISNUMBER(SEARCH(things,B5)))>0

### With a hard-coded list

There's no requirement that you use a range for your list of things. If you're only looking for a small number of things, you can use a list in array format, which is called an array constant. For example, if you're just looking for the colors red, blue, and green, you can use {"red","blue","green"} like this:

=SUMPRODUCT(--ISNUMBER(SEARCH({"red","blue","green"},B5)))>0

## Excel Formula Training

Learn Excel formulas and functions with concise, clear videos. Master absolute/relative addresses, dates, text, named ranges, and tools for troubleshooting. Each video comes with a practice worksheet and audio transcript. Instant access and complete 100% guarantee. Start today!