While working with Excel, we are able to count values in a data set based on a given criteria by using the **COUNTIF **function. COUNTIF returns the number of values in a specified range based on a given condition. This step by step tutorial will assist all levels of Excel users in counting values that contain five characters.

*Figure 1. Final result: Count cells that contain five characters*

Final formula: **=COUNTIF(B3:B7,"?????")**

**Syntax of COUNTIF Function**

`=`

**COUNTIF**(**range**,**criteria**)

Parameters:

**range**– the data range that will be evaluated using the criteria**criteria**– the criteria or condition that determines which cells will be counted

**Setting up our Data**

Our data consists of two columns : State (column B) and No. of Characters (column C). In cell E3, we want to determine how many states in the list have five characters.

* Figure 2. Sample data for the COUNTIF function*

Count cells that contain five characters

To determine the number of cells that contain five characters, we follow these steps:

**Step 1**. Select cell E3

**Step 2**. Enter the formula: `=`

**COUNTIF**(**B3:B7**,"**?????**")

**Step 3**. Press ENTER

The range for the database is **B3:E7**. The criteria is “**?????**”. The question mark “**?**” is a wildcard in Excel which means one single character. Using five question mark symbols as criteria means that we want to find values with five characters.

The result in cell E3 is 2, which means that there are two values with five characters: Idaho and Texas.

*Figure 3. Entering the formula using COUNTIF and question mark “?”*

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