Quick, clean, and to the point

If cell contains one of many things

Excel formula: If cell contains one of many things
Generic formula 

To test a cell for one of several things, and return a custom result for the first match found, you can use an INDEX / MATCH formula based on the SEARCH function.

In the example shown, the formula in C5 is:


This is an array formula and must be entered with Control + Shift + Enter.

How this formula works

This formula uses two named ranges: E5:E8 is named "things", and F5:F8 is named "results". Make sure you use name ranges with the same names (based on your data). If you don't want to use named ranges, use absolute references instead.

The core of this formula is this snippet:


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

Because we give SEARCH more than one thing to look for, it will give us back a list of results, in an array that looks like this:


To simply the array, we use the  ISNUMBER function to convert all items in the array to either TRUE or FALSE. Any valid number becomes TRUE, and any error (i.e. a thing not found) becomes FALSE. The result is an array like this:


Which goes into the MATCH function as the "lookup_array", with a "lookup_value" of TRUE.

MATCH then returns the position of first TRUE found (in this case is 2). 

Finally, we use INDEX to retrieve a result from the named range "results" at that same position.

This approach lets you populate the "results" range with whatever values you want.

Dave Bruns

Excel Formula Training

Formulas are the key to getting things done in Excel. In this accelerated training, you'll learn how to use formulas to manipulate text, work with dates and times, lookup values with VLOOKUP and INDEX & MATCH, count and sum with criteria, dynamically rank values, and create dynamic ranges. You'll also learn how to troubleshoot, trace errors, and fix problems. Instant access. See details here.

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