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Example of wildcard in COUNTIF function

A wildcard is a special character that let's you "fuzzy" matching in your Excel formulas. For example, this formula:


counts alls cells in the range B5:B11 that end with the text "combo". And this formula:


Counts all cells in A1:A100 that contain exactly 3 characters.

Available wildcards

Excel has 3 wildcards you can use in your formulas:

  • Asterisk (*) - matches one or more characters of any kind
  • Question mark (?) - matches any one character
  • Tilde (~) - escapes a wildcard to match a literal asterisk (~*) a literal question mark (~?), or a literal tilde (~~).

Compatible functions

Not all functions allow wildcards. Here is a list of the most common functions that do:

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