Search vs Find

Today I want to examine the Search function and the differences between the functions Search and Find.
On first glance they appear to do the same job. Both allow you to find a string within a sub string. Okay now that one sentence has caused many people to just click off this blog. But for those few go getters who have stayed, let me demonstrate the differences with an example.

The syntax for the SEARCH function is:

SEARCH( substring, string, [start_position] )substring is the substring that you want to find.
string is the string to search within.

start_position is optional. It is the position in string where the search will start. The first position is 1.

Let’s look at the following sentence…

The blue chicken has the best food in france.

(Now that’s a new search result for Google to find!)

If I wanted to find the starting position of the word france (18 character in the sentence) I could use either =Search or =Find.

The blue chicken has the best food in france.


Ah Ha!!! You exclaim, you forgot to capitalize the word France in your sentence (the spelling police are everywhere). You are correct, and yet the =Search function found the word while the Find function returned an error.

This is because the FIND function is case sensitive, while the SEARCH function is not. FIND looks for the exact match whereas SEARCH will just look for any match (uppercase or lowercase or mixture). And in my formulas I capitalized the letter F in France.

The Second difference between FIND and SEARCH is the ability to use Wildcard characters. The SEARCH function allows wildcard characters, while the FIND function does not.

Notice the wildcard in my third example  =SEARCH("fre*",A1,1

You can use the ? and * wildcard characters; use ~? And ~* to find the ? and * characters.

So right about now you are asking yourself, why would I ever use the find function when search seems so much more useful? Well the answer is case sensitivity. If you  need case sensitivity, then you need to use the FIND function.

So which do you prefer, Find or Search?

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