Author: Oscar Cronquist Article last updated on January 15, 2019

In this post I will describe a basic user defined function with better search functionality than the array formula in this post: Fuzzy vlookup.

The user defined function searches for a value with as many characters matching as possible. It is as simple as that.

I have added some serious misspellings randomly in List 2. 98 out of 100 names are found.

User defined Function Syntax

SEARCHCHARS(lookup_value, tbl)


lookup_value Required. The value you want to lookup.
[tbl] Required. The range you want to search.


User defined function in cell C3:

=SEARCHCHARS(B3, $E$3:$E$101)

Copy cell C3 and paste it to the cells below, as far as needed.

Excel vba

'Name function and arguments
Function SearchChars(lookup_value As String, tbl_array As Range) As String
'Declare variables and types
Dim i As Integer, str As String, Value As String
Dim a As Integer, b As Integer, cell As Variant
'Iterste through each cell
For Each cell In tbl_array
  'Save cell value to variable
  str = cell
  'Iterate through characters
  For i = 1 To Len(lookup_value)
    'Same character?
    If InStr(cell, Mid(lookup_value, i, 1)) > 0 Then
      'Add 1 to number in array
      a = a + 1
      'Remove evaluated character from cell and contine with remaning characters
      cell = Mid(cell, 1, InStr(cell, Mid(lookup_value, i, 1)) - 1) & Mid(cell, InStr(cell, Mid(lookup_value, i, 1)) + 1, 9999)
    End If
  'Next character
  Next i

a = a - Len(cell)
'Save value if there are more matching characters than before  
If a > b Then
  b = a
  Value = str
End If

a = 0
Next cell
'Return value with the most matching characters
SearchChars = Value
End Function

How to add the user defined function to your workbook

  1. Press Alt-F11 to open visual basic editor
  2. Click Module on the Insert menu
  3. Copy and paste the above user defined function
  4. Exit visual basic editor

Download Excel file