Back to Excel Find menu

Finding text inside your worksheet

Step by step guidance:
1. Click the binoculars button, and choose “Find”.
Alternative: press together [Ctrl]+[F] keys on the keyboard.

The “Find and replace” dialog box will appear, in which the “Find” tab is selected.

The find dialog box

2. Type down the query you wish to look for.

3. Click the “Find next” button, or press [Enter] on the keyboard.
The active cell will jump immediately to the first match found.

4. You can now close the dialog box by either clicking the “Close” button or by pressing “Esc” on the keyboard, or you can look for more matches by clicking the “Find next” button again.

In case Excel doesn’t find any match, the following message will appear:

cannot find the data you are looking for

Limiting the search area
Selecting a range of cells before conducting a search will limit the search to the selected area.

Note that sometimes Excel doesn’t find your query just because you didn’t notice that some cells are selected. Even if you mistakenly select two cells, Excel will limit itself to look only inside these two.

How does Excel search your worksheet?
It starts from the location of the active cell, and goes to the right along the row. After finishing the row, its goes one row down and searches on the next row from left to right, and so on until the last row of you data. Then it jumps back to the first row of your data, until reaching the active cell again.

That gives high importance to the location (especially the row) of the active cell when conducting a search.
For example, if you have the word “smith” many times along your worksheet, and you start a search when the active cell is in address C8, the computer will find the match located in address K46 before it will find the one located in address E5.