Filter or Extract with a Partial Match

Assume you have a table consisting of a few cells having few values, and you want to filter out the set of records with the partial match. You might take it easy and would prefer to manually filter out the desired partial matching values into another table without any need for the formula; then congratulations because you are thinking right.

But let me add that it would be a big deal while dealing with a bulk of data in the table, and then doing this bulky task manually would be a foolish decision.

But there isn’t any need to worry about it because after carefully reading this article filtering out the set of records with the aid of partial matches will be a piece of cake for you.

filter with partial match1

So let’s get straight into it!

General Formula:

You can use the FILTER function in combination with the SEARCH function to choose data records based on a partial match. The formula in E4 is written as follows:

=FILTER(Data_range,ISNUMBER(SEARCH(B2,Filter_range))*(B2<>""),"Not Found")

Note: Data_range is name range for A2:C9, and Filter_range is antoehr name range for B2:B9.

filter with partial match1

Let’s See How This Formula Works

The motive is to extract a collection of records that match a partial text string in this example. We match one column in the data range A2:C9 or the “Region” column. The FILTER function (new in Excel 365) retrieves matched data from a range based on a logical filter, which is at the heart of this formula:


The task in this example is to build the logic required to match records based on a partial match. Because the FILTER function does not handle wildcards, we must use an alternative technique. In this situation, we use the SEARCH function in conjunction with the ISNUMBER function as follows:


filter with partial match1

The SEARCH function seeks text input in cell E2 within the Filter_range name range. SEARCH returns the position of a result in the text if it finds one.

If SEARCH formula does not yield any results, it returns the #VALUE! error:

We have a match if SEARCH returns a number. Otherwise, we don’t have a match. We wrap the SEARCH function within the ISNUMBER function to transform this result into a simple TRUE/FALSE value. Only when SEARCH returns a number will ISNUMBER return TRUE.

We aren’t utilizing a wildcard like (“*”) to achieve a partial match, but the SEARCH + ISNUMBER combination acts similarly. SEARCH function will return a number if the search string is found anywhere in the text, and ISNUMBER will return TRUE if the search string is found anywhere in the text.


filter with partial match1

We now have a workable formula, but we still need to clean up a few things. First, if the FILTER function returns no results, it will produce a #CALC! error. We would add a text message for the “if_empty” argument to deliver a friendlier message:

=FILTER(Data_range,ISNUMBER(SEARCH(B2,Filter_range))*(B2<>""),"Not Found")

FILTER will now return “Not Found ” if the search text is not found.

Finally, we must deal with the circumstance where the search string in E2 is blank. Surprisingly, if the search text is an empty string, the SEARCH function will return the value 1.

If field B2 is empty, FILTER will return all results since ISNUMBER will joyfully return TRUE for number 1. To avoid this behavior, we add the following logic to the original logical expression:


filter with partial match1

When B2 is not empty, the expression B2<>”” yields TRUE; otherwise, it returns FALSE. By the original SEARCH + ISNUMBER expression, when we would multiply the results of this expression, all TRUE results are “canceled out” when B2 is empty. This is a variation on Boolean logic.


Extract All Partial Match Using Index and Match function

Only Excel 365 supports the FILTER feature. It is feasible to put up a partial match formula in previous versions of Excel to produce more than one match, but it is more complicated. This following formula demonstrates one method based on INDEX and MATCH.


Related Functions

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