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 in Access represent unknown values. There are two main wildcard characters that you need to know: the asterisk “*” and the question mark “?.” 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. So using a criteria like “N?D” would only find three letter “N…D” words like “Ned” and “Nod.” You can type as many question marks as you need to fill in the requisite unknown characters. So typing “N??D” will find words like “Need” and “Nerd.”
            When you type wildcard characters in Access into the criteria row of the QBE grid, Access will place the word “Like” before them. This is simply the required syntax. It is not necessary for you to type it in yourself, if you do not wish to, as Access will add it for you. However, do not worry if it appears in your criteria, either.

Wildcard Characters in Access: Instructions

  1. Open the query into which you would like to insert wildcard character criteria in query design view.
  2. Click into the “Criteria:” row underneath the field into which you want to place the criteria.
  3. Type the criteria for which you want to search, using the appropriate wildcard characters:
            ? = a single unknown character.
            * = multiple unknown characters.
  1. Click “Save” in the Quick Access toolbar to save your changes.

Wildcard Characters in Access: Video Lesson

            The following video lesson, titled “8.2- Using Wildcard Characters in Criteria,” shows how to add wildcard characters in Access. This video is from our complete Access tutorial, titled “Mastering Access Made Easy v.2013-2007,” which is available for sale from TeachUcomp, Inc. You can see a picture of the training interface shown below the video lesson.


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