VLOOKUP with WILDCARD characters

//VLOOKUP with WILDCARD characters
Advanced Vlookup with  – wildcard characters “?” and “*”

Why vlookup gives me wrong answer???

Bugs in vlookup???  I am sure it’s not about text vs. number, but it still fails to give the correct answer!!!


Wildcard Characters:
Question Mark “?” and asterisk “*” are the wildcard characters in Excel, they can be used in Find/Replace, Search, Match, and lookup functions, just to name a few.

  • ? means any single character
  • * means any sequences of characters

Go back to the example on the top, it happens that the lookup values contain wildcard character “?” and “*”.
The 1st lookup value:
“Pant?8” is interpreted as a text string

  • Starts with “Pant”;
  • Ends with “8”;
  • Any single character in between.
  • In the table array, “Pant28” is the first value matching that lookup value, 300 is returned as a result.
    The 2nd lookup value:
    “Pant*29” is interpreted as a text string
  • Starts with “Pant”;
  • Ends with “29”;
  • A sequence of any characters in between.
  • “Pant Blue 29” is thus the first value matching that lookup value, 200 is returned as a result.
    Then how do we lookup a value that contains “?” or “*” in it?
    To lookup exactly the “?” or “*”, we need to add “~” just before it.  i.e. “~?”, “~*”.        See below:3
    Intuitively, people won’t remember to input the “~” for a lookup value.  Is there a way to automate it?
    Yes!  We can do it by substituting the * and ? with ~* and ~? respectively by the following function:



In case we know that there will be either “?” or “*” in the source data table, we could modify the vlookup formula as follow:
See.  We just need to modify the “lookup_value” inside the vlookup formula.

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