Highlight cells that begin with

The SEARCH function in MS Excel can be used quite easily to return TRUE and resultantly highlight the cells that begin with a specific text or query.

How to highlight cells that begin with specific text in Excel?

To highlight the cells that begin with a specific text or maybe a number we just need to use Excel SEARCH function. We can use a very easy formula that will return TRUE when a single cell or a range of cells start with a certain specified substring. The formula with the example is discussed below.

Formula or Syntax


How the function works

When we apply the SEARCH function to highlight cells, MS Excel uses the active cell from the selection to evaluate the formula. The formula then uses the SEARCH function to identify the cells that begin with a specified text. After that, the SEARCH function returns the cells that begin with that specific text and these cells are resultantly highlighted.


Here we will apply the SEARCH formula in Excel Worksheet and understand how to highlight cells that begin with a specified text step by step,

  • In the example, we have text from cells E8 till E14.

Figure 1. Text

  • Now we want to highlight the cells that start with the word ‘t’. So we will use the following formula with SEARCH function.


Figure 2. Inserting SEARCH Function

  • The cells with text starting with ‘t’ got highlighted.

Figure 3. The result of SEARCH function

Notes on usage of VLOOKUP function:

  • SEARCH function is not case sensitive.
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