To get the position of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. instance of a specific character inside a text string, you can use the FIND and SUBSTITUTE functions.

In the example shown, the formula in E4 is:


Generic formula



At the core, this formula uses the fact that the SUBSTITUTE function understands "instance", supplied as an optional fourth argument called "instance_num". This means you can use the SUBSTITUTE function to replace a specific instance of a character in a text string. So:


replaces only the 2nd instance (2 comes from D4) of "x" in text in B4, with "~" character. The result looks like this:


Next, FIND locates the "~" inside this string and returns the position, which is 7 in this case.

Note: we use "~" in this case only because it rarely occurs in other text. You can use any character that you know won't appear in the text.

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Dave Bruns

Hi - I'm Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.