How do I Find/Replace or Filter with exact words/characters?

Occasional Contributor

Requirement 1: I want to be able to filter the cells to the letter "a" or "is"


Requirement 2: I want to be able to Find and Replace the word "is" with should be

Issue 2: When I search for "is", the words "list" and "display" show up and so the output is lshouldt and dshouldplay 


Is this possible without VBA?



10 Replies


In Find and Replace options check Match entire cell content


In column Filter you may select Text Filter -> Equals

Hi @Sergei Baklan  - this does not work.


The reason is that for that feature to work the cell must contain nothing but the word "is".


For example, if I  have a cell F1 with a value "My name is Matt" and I search for "is" and have "match cell contents" to true, then it will not find cell F1 because the cell contents contains words other than "is".


If the cell just contained "is" and nothing else then your solution would work.


Thanks for trying!

best response confirmed by MattC475 (Occasional Contributor)


You may wrap it by spaces searching for " is ". 

@Sergei Baklan Un-freaking believable!! 


Thank you so much!!!


One small thing, for future reference: Is it possible to include punctuation e.g.


Find and replace "is" with "should be"


  • visual = visual > Pass
  • mistake = mistake > Pass
  • is = should be > Pass
  • is! = is! > Fail

is it possible to include punctuation instead of doing find and replace for is!, is., is, etc. ..........?




For future readers:


  1. Microsoft Word has "match whole word only" Microsoft Excel does not
  2. Copying from Excel to Word using feature in point 1. then copying back to Excel does not work as smoothly and you'd think
  3. Using the Find/Substitute/RPT functions are not as simple as this!


Hi Matt,


Afraid not. You may use " is?" where the question mark means any single character. It finds " is ", " is!", etc., but the words as "issue" also will be found for substitution.

One option is to use Find Next and click Replace only if correct word was found.

Another option, if to replace in place, write some macro on VBA which will do the job.

One more option is to add helper column, if your texts are in column, and use formulas to change the text returning result into helper column.

I wasn't able to search for " is " in Excel 2016.
In fact, using the double quotes or even single quotes. the search didn't show any result.
Even using a space before and after " is ", or when I searched without a space "is".
Am I missing something or is it not possible in Excel 2016?


Sorry, I don't have Excel 2016 to test, my guess it shall work the same way



It works in my Excel 2013 sheet if the search is done without double or single quotes.


Hi Sergei,

Thanks a lot for your response. I interpreted wrongly earlier.
I used the " or ' in the Find what box.

Thanks for attaching the screenshot, now it's crystal clear.

My query is that if I want to replace say all occurrences of "act" with "fact", the problem is that "active" will also be replaced and become "factive". Here, in this case, "act " / " act" / " act " won't do the trick.
Hi There,

Thanks a lot for your response. I interpreted wrongly earlier.
I used the " or ' in the Find what box. My bad!!!!!