The SEARCH function allows you to find the position of a specific character in a string
- The first argument is the lookup character
It could be one character or many
- The second argument is the string
You can write a string or use the cell reference
- [Optional] The starting position
By default, the value is 1 (beginning of the string) but you can indicate the value of the starting position
=SEARCH(Character to find, String to look into, Position to start)
When using the function SEARCH
You want to extract the mobile numbers in column A. The mobile numbers are in the string after the character "/". As you can see in this picture, the position of the symbol "/" is not always in the same position. Sometimes it's because of the dialing code, and sometimes because there are spaces around the "/" symbol.
So the important thing is to locate the position of the character "/" in the cell in order to extract all the characters on the left of it.
- Excel 365 has 2 incredible functions TEXTBEFORE and TEXTAFTER to extract substrings according to a delimiter
Find the position of a character
The position of the symbol "/" is given by this formula.
So for the first phone number, the first "/" is in the 9th position in the string
Example 1: Extract the first phone number
As we want to extract the first mobile number (with area code) we will use the LEFT function and the formula in column C is
Extract the position of the mobile number
The mobile number is after the string "cell:". So now, we are going to write a new SEARCH function with this specific string
As you can see, for the last string, there is an error. This error occurs when the string is not found.
Use the function IFERROR
To avoid returning an error, we can use the wonderful function IFERROR
=IFERROR(formula, result in case of error)
So here, we can simply write
Example 2: Extract the mobile phone
Watch out! The position returned by the function is the position of the first character, not the last one
So we must add to the result of the function the value 5. The string "cell:" has 5 characters
Example 3: Extract the last phone number
To extract the last phone number, we will write the following formula