Google Sheets: How to Search for Special Characters in Cell


You can use the following formula to check if a given cell in Google Sheets contains any special characters anywhere in the cell:

=SUMPRODUCT(--ISNUMBER(SEARCH({"!","#","$","%","(",")","^","@","[","]","{","}"},A2)))>0

This particular formula checks if cell A2 contains any special characters and returns TRUE if it does.

Otherwise, it returns FALSE.

The following example shows how to use this formula in practice.

Example: Search for Special Characters in Cell in Google Sheets

Suppose we have the following list of phrases in Google Sheets:

Suppose we would like to search each phrase in column A to determine if it contains a special character or not.

To do so, we can type the following formula into cell B2:

=SUMPRODUCT(--ISNUMBER(SEARCH({"!","#","$","%","(",")","^","@","[","]","{","}"},A2)))>0

We can then click and drag this formula down to each remaining cell in column B:

Google Sheets search for special character

The formula returns TRUE if the phrase contains a special character.

Otherwise, it returns FALSE if no special characters are found.

Note that the formula we used contains the most common special characters but if there are other special characters you’d like to search for, simply include those within the SEARCH() function in the formula.

Also note that you can choose to only search for specific special characters if you’d like.

For example, you could use the following formula to only search for a dollar sign or percent sign in cells:

=SUMPRODUCT(--ISNUMBER(SEARCH({"$","%"},A2)))>0

This formula would return TRUE if a dollar sign ($) or percent sign (%) were detected in a given cell or FALSE if neither character was detected.

Additional Resources

The following tutorials explain how to perform other common tasks in Google Sheets:

Google Sheets: Search for Value in List and Return Yes or No
Google Sheets: How to Use SEARCH with Multiple Values
Google Sheets: How to Extract Text Before a Character

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