When I try to find the question mark character (?) in an Excel sheet, Excel cannot locate the cells containing them. How can I search for ? in Excel?

  • 9
    The same applies to *, in case you want to expand your question :) Aug 7, 2012 at 17:54

2 Answers 2


To search for the cells containing the question mark character (?), use a tilde before it inside the search box:


Now Excel will show you only the cells that contain the question mark character (?).

  • I wonder why... For me, Excel 2010 finds ? as it would with any character/letter or number.
    – Dave
    Aug 7, 2012 at 12:27
  • I just tried it on Office 2010 and it couldn't find ?. With each click on "Find" button, it just select cells starting with the first cell in the sheet. Aug 7, 2012 at 13:14
  • Note: The cell contains only the question mark and nothing else. Aug 7, 2012 at 13:15
  • 1
    This works for for finding question marks in filters as well.
    – Nomic
    Apr 22, 2015 at 4:44

The ? is a wildcard which represents a single character, and the * is a wildcard character that represents any string of characters.

When searching for either wildcard character, Excel will simply find everything, whether or not these actual characters appear in the cells you're searching.

To find either of the specific characters, when not using them in a wildcard search, you must precede it in your search criteria with a tilde, the ~ character.

  • ~? finds only the ? character
  • ~* finds only the * character
  • ? finds all single characters
  • * finds all strings of characters
  • 15
    ~~ finds only the ~ character
    – Dan
    Jan 7, 2016 at 15:21

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