Using Find & Replace

In Excel find and replace are both useful functions. Use find and replace in Excel to locate specific information in Excel 2016.

Introduction

When working with a lot of data in Excel, it can be difficult and time consuming to locate specific information. You can easily search your workbook using the Find feature, which also allows you to modify content using the Replace feature.

Optional: Download our practice workbook.

Watch the video below to learn more about using Find & Replace.

To find content:

In our example, we'll use the Find command to locate a specific department in this list.

  1. From the Home tab, click the Find and Select command, then select Find from the drop-down menu.
    Selecting the Find feature
  2. The Find and Replace dialog box will appear. Enter the content you want to find. In our example, we'll type the department's name.
  3. Click Find Next. If the content is found, the cell containing that content will be selected.
    Clicking Find Next to locate content
  4. Click Find Next to find further instances or Find All to see every instance of the search term.
    Selecting Find All to locate every instance of the search term
  5. When you are finished, click Close to exit the Find and Replace dialog box.
    Clicking close to exit the dialog box

You can also access the Find command by pressing Ctrl+F on your keyboard.

Click Options to see advanced search criteria in the Find and Replace dialog box.

Clicking options to see advanced search criteria


To replace cell content:

At times, you may discover that you've repeatedly made a mistake throughout your workbook (such as misspelling someone's name) or that you need to exchange a particular word or phrase for another. You can use Excel's Find and Replace feature to make quick revisions. In our example, we'll use Find and Replace to correct a list of department names.

  1. From the Home tab, click the Find and Select command, then select Replace from the drop-down menu.
    Selecting Replace from the drop-down menu
  2. The Find and Replace dialog box will appear. Type the text you want to find in the Find what: field.
  3. Type the text you want to replace it with in the Replace with: field, then click Find Next.
    Clicking find next
  4. If the content is found, the cell containing that content will be selected.
  5. Review the text to make sure you want to replace it.
  6. If you want to replace it, select one of the replace options. Choosing Replace will replace individual instances, while Replace All will replace every instance of the text throughout the workbook. In our example, we'll choose this option to save time.

    Clicking replace all

  7. A dialog box will appear, confirming the number of replacements made. Click OK to continue.

    Clicking ok
  8. The selected cell content will be replaced.

    The selected content has been replaced
  9. When you are finished, click Close to exit the Find and Replace dialog box.
    Clicking close to exit the dialog box

Generally, it's best to avoid using Replace All because it doesn't give you the option of skipping anything you don't want to change. You should only use this option if you're absolutely sure it won't replace anything you didn't intend it to.

Challenge!

  1. Open our practice workbook.
  2. Click the Challenge tab in the bottom-left of the workbook.
  3. Crystal Lewis was married and changed her last name to Taylor. Use Find and Replace to change Crystal's last name from Lewis to Taylor. Be careful to only change Crystal's last name!
  4. Find and replace Bio with Biology. Be careful not to change the major Biomedical Engineering!
  5. Use Find and Replace All to replace the Physics major to Physical Science.
  6. When you're finished, your worksheet should look like this:

    Find and Replace Challenge