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# Count the number of occurrences in a text string

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If I have some text in a cell, how can I find the number of times another piece of text appears in it?

For example, suppose A1 contains Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.. pick occurs 2 times in this string. What formula can I put in A2 so that it counts the occurrences of pick and returns 2?

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Why not fuzzy wuzzy? (2 comments)

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Although spreadsheets were never really intended for text processing, I think a formula solution is possible (LibreOffice 5.4.3.2):

For the first example above:

=(LEN(A1)-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(A1,"XYZ","")))/LEN("XYZ")


and for the second example:

=(LEN(B1)-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(B1,"Mary","")))/LEN("MARY")


However I would suggest a better approach may be to parameterise the relevant 'occurrence' as doing so simplifies the formula and displays the 'occurrence' while the formula is hidden.

Given the text string (only) in A1 and the 'occurrence' in B1, the formula for both examples could be:

=(LEN(A1)-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(A1,B1,"")))/LEN(B1)


This formula could also be in at least Excel, Sheets and OpenOffice Calc, given the appropriate specific separator, which may be locale dependent.

The formula is case sensitive and works by subtracting from the length of the text string the length of the text string without 'occurrence/s' (by substituting each 'occurrence' with nothing) and then dividing the difference by the number of characters in each 'occurrence'.

A word of caution however, I have not tested this for every combination of alternative solutions (2), text string location (2), examples (2), case (2) and package (4).

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+2
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@elgonzo mentioned correctly that the nice trick from @pnuts can not be applied if you are interested in the number of occurrences including overlapping ones.

So, just in case someone is in need of such a functionality, here is a function in LibreOffice Basic which handles that case:

Function countOccurrences(searchedWithin As String, searchedFor As String) As Long
Dim count As Long
Dim foundPos As Long
count = -1   ' Will become 0 on loop entry and then 1 if really found the first time
foundPos = 0 ' Will cause search to start at 1 in first loop iteration
Do
count = count + 1
foundPos = Instr(foundPos + 1, searchedWithin, searchedFor, 0)
Loop While foundPos > 0
countOccurrences = count
End Function

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