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Wildcard Characters in Access- Tutorial

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Wildcard Characters in Access: A picture showing wildcard characters used for query criteria in Access.

Wildcard Characters in Access: Overview

            You can use wildcard characters in Access to add an additional level of flexibility to your query criteria. Wildcard characters within query criteria in Access represent unknown values. The asterisk “*” and the question mark “?” are the two main wildcard characters in Access you need to know. The asterisk represents multiple unknown characters. For example, the criteria “N*” would find all “N” words like “Nebraska,” “Ned,” “Not,” “Never Ever,” etc.

            The question mark represents one unknown character. Therefore, using a criteria like “N?D” would only find three-letter words that both start with the letter “N” and also end with the letter “D,” like “Ned” and “Nod.” You can type as many question marks as needed to fill-in the required unknown characters. Therefore, typing “N??D” as the query criteria finds words like “Need” and “Nerd,” for example.

Wildcard Characters in Access: A picture showing wildcard characters used for query criteria in Access.

Wildcard Characters in Access: A picture showing wildcard characters used for query criteria in Access.

            When you type wildcard characters in Access into the criteria row of the QBE grid, Access places the word “Like” before them. This is simply the required syntax. It is not necessary for you to type it yourself if you do not want to, as Access adds it for you. However, do not worry if it appears in your criteria, either.

Wildcard Characters in Access: Instructions

1. To use wildcard characters in Access, open the query into which you want to insert wildcard character criteria in query design view.
2. Then click into the “Criteria:” row underneath the field into which you want to place the criteria.
3. Then type the criteria for which you want to search, using the appropriate wildcard characters:

            ? = a single unknown character.

            * = multiple unknown characters.

4. Then click “Save” in the Quick Access toolbar to save your changes.

Wildcard Characters in Access: Video Lesson

            The following video lesson, titled “Using Wildcard Characters in Criteria,” shows how to add wildcard characters to query criteria in Access. This video is from our complete Access tutorial, titled “Mastering Access Made Easy v.2016-2013.”

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