Sum if cells contain an asterisk

Summing cells that contain an asterisk is tricky in Excel because the asterisk *” is a wildcard.  In Excel, it means any string of characters. This article will teach us how to sum cells containing an asterisk using SUMIF and the tilde (~).  

Figure 1.  Final result: Sum if cells contain an asterisk

The tilde ~ is also a wildcard in Excel.  It is used to mark the character next to it as a literal character.  

SUMIF function in Excel

SUMIF sums the values in a specified range, based on one given criteria


=SUMIF(range,criteria, [sum_range])


  • Range: the data range that will be evaluated using the criteria
  • Criteria: the criteria or condition that determines which cells will be added
  • Sum_range: the cells that will be added; if left blank, “sum_range” = “range” which means that the range of data that will be added is the same range of data evaluated

Setting up the Data

Let’s create a list of categories and sales for coffee.  We want to sum the sales for categories containing an asterisk *”.  

Figure 2.  Sample data to sum cells containing an asterisk

Sum Cells Containing an Asterisk

In cell F3, enter the formula:



  • B3:B8 is the range of data we want to evaluate, which is under column B “Category”
  • C3:C8 is the range whose values we want to add, once the criteria is satisfied in column B
  • The formula returns the value 320, which is the sum of sales for Espresso*, Flat* White and Vienna*

Figure 3.  Entering the formula using SUMIF, tilde ~ and asterisk *

Important Notes

  • *~**” is the criteria; the asterisks in both sides ensure to include all cells containing an asterisk, no matter where the asterisk is in a cell.
    • Example: In “ Espresso* ”, the asterisk is the last character but in “ Flat* White ”, the asterisk is in the middle.  
  • Note the characters inside the two asterisks, ~* : it is necessary to put the ~ before the asterisk “*” in order for Excel to search for the asterisk “*” as a literal character, and not as a wildcard

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