How to Use the SEARCH Function in Google Sheets

Last Updated on April 15, 2023 by Jake Sheridan

In this tutorial, you will learn how to use the SEARCH function in Google Sheets.

How to Use the SEARCH Function in Google Sheets

What should you do if you want to know whether a text value in Google Sheets contains a particular phrase, word, or character?

The SEARCH function in Google Sheets allows you to quickly locate a particular substring within a given string. This can be helpful if you want to know the position of a substring or whether or not the string contains the indicated substring.

The function returns an integer to show where a particular string is found first in a specific text.

In this guide, we will explain how to use the SEARCH function in Google Sheets.

How to Find Specific Text in Google Sheets with SEARCH Function

Here’s how to find specific text in Google Sheets with SEARCH function.

Step 1

First, select an empty cell where we will use the SEARCH function.

In this example, we want to know whether the values in column B appear in the text found in column A.

Step 2

Type “=SEARCH(“ to begin the SEARCH function.

Step 3

Enter the string to search for as the first argument.

In our first example, we want to look for the word “Hello”.

Step 4

Next, enter the text you want to search.

Step 5

The SEARCH function will output the position of the first instance of the searched word.

In our example, the word “Hello” starts at position 1 of “Hello world” so SEARCH returns a value of 1.

We can use the AutoFill tool to fill out the rest of the column. For example, the word “bye” starts at the fifth character of the full text “Goodbye”.

Step 6

If the searched string cannot be found, the SEARCH function returns a #VALUE! error.

Step 7

The SEARCH function also includes an optional third argument which indicates at which position of the text should we start searching.

In the example above, we’ve indicated that we will start looking for the word “hello” after the sixth character.

This is why the position returned refers to the second instance of hello rather than the first instance.

Step 8

The output of the SEARCH function can also be used with other string functions.

For example, we can use the LEFT function with the SEARCH function to generate substrings that stop at a certain character.

Summary

This guide should be everything you need to use the SEARCH function in Google Sheets.

You may make a copy of this example spreadsheet to test it out on your own.