Regular expression to match numbers with or without commas and decimals in text

The Solution to Regular expression to match numbers with or without commas and decimals in text is

EDIT: Since this has gotten a lot of views, let me start by giving everybody what they Googled for:

#For numbers embedded in sentences, see discussion below

#No commas allowed
#Pass: (1000.0), (001), (.001)
#Fail: (1,000.0)

#No commas allowed
#Can't start with "."
#Pass: (0.01)
#Fail: (.01)

#### CURRENCY ####
#No commas allowed
#"$" optional
#Can't start with "."
#Either 0 or 2 decimal digits
#Pass: ($1000), (1.00), ($0.11)
#Fail: ($1.0), (1.), ($1.000), ($.11)

#Commas required between powers of 1,000
#Can't start with "."
#Pass: (1,000,000), (0.001)
#Fail: (1000000), (1,00,00,00), (.001)

#Commas required
#Cannot be empty
#Pass: (1,000.100), (.001)
#Fail: (1000), ()

#Commas optional as long as they're consistent
#Can't start with "."
#Pass: (1,000,000), (1000000)
#Fail: (10000,000), (1,00,00)

#No commas allowed
#Can't start with "."
#No leading zeroes in integer part
#Pass: (1.00), (0.00)
#Fail: (001)

#No commas allowed
#Can't start with "."
#No trailing zeroes in decimal part
#Pass: (1), (0.1)
#Fail: (1.00), (0.1000)

Now that that's out of the way, most of the following is meant as commentary on how complex regex can get if you try to be clever with it, and why you should seek alternatives. Read at your own risk.

This is a very common task, but all the answers I see here so far will accept inputs that don't match your number format, such as ,111, 9,9,9, or even .,,.. That's simple enough to fix, even if the numbers are embedded in other text. IMHO anything that fails to pull 1,234.56 and 1234—and only those numbers—out of abc22 1,234.56 def 1234 is a wrong answer.

First of all, if you don't need to do this all in one regex, don't. A single regex for two different number formats is hard to maintain even when they aren't embedded in other text. What you should really do is split the whole thing on whitespace, then run two or three smaller regexes on the results. If that's not an option for you, keep reading.

Basic pattern

Considering the examples you've given, here's a simple regex that allows pretty much any integer or decimal in 0000 format and blocks everything else:


Here's one that requires 0,000 format:


Put them together, and commas become optional as long as they're consistent:


Embedded numbers

The patterns above require the entire input to be a number. You're looking for numbers embedded in text, so you have to loosen that part. On the other hand, you don't want it to see catch22 and think it's found the number 22. If you're using something with lookbehind support (like .NET), this is pretty easy: replace ^ with (?<!\S) and $ with (?!\S) and you're good to go:


If you're working with JavaScript or Ruby or something, things start looking more complex:


You'll have to use capture groups; I can't think of an alternative without lookbehind support. The numbers you want will be in Group 1 (assuming the whole match is Group 0).

Validation and more complex rules

I think that covers your question, so if that's all you need, stop reading now. If you want to get fancier, things turn very complex very quickly. Depending on your situation, you may want to block any or all of the following:

  • Empty input
  • Leading zeroes (e.g. 000123)
  • Trailing zeroes (e.g. 1.2340000)
  • Decimals starting with the decimal point (e.g. .001 as opposed to 0.001)

Just for the hell of it, let's assume you want to block the first 3, but allow the last one. What should you do? I'll tell you what you should do, you should use a different regex for each rule and progressively narrow down your matches. But for the sake of the challenge, here's how you do it all in one giant pattern:


And here's what it means:

(?<!\S) to (?!\S) #The whole match must be surrounded by either whitespace or line boundaries. So if you see something bogus like :;:9.:, ignore the 9.
(?=.)             #The whole thing can't be blank.

(                    #Rules for the integer part:
  0                  #1. The integer part could just be 0...
  |                  #
  [1-9]              #   ...otherwise, it can't have leading zeroes.
  (                  #
    \d*              #2. It could use no commas at all...
    |                #
    \d{0,2}(,\d{3})* #   ...or it could be comma-separated groups of 3 digits each.
  )                  # 
)?                   #3. Or there could be no integer part at all.

(       #Rules for the decimal part:
  \.    #1. It must start with a decimal point...
  \d*   #2. ...followed by a string of numeric digits only.
  [1-9] #3. It can't be just the decimal point, and it can't end in 0.
)?      #4. The whole decimal part is also optional. Remember, we checked at the beginning to make sure the whole thing wasn't blank.

Tested here:

This will allow things like:


It will block things like:


There are several ways to make this regex simpler and shorter, but understand that changing the pattern will loosen what it considers a number.

Since many regex engines (e.g. JavaScript and Ruby) don't support the negative lookbehind, the only way to do this correctly is with capture groups:


The numbers you're looking for will be in capture group 1.

Tested here:

One final note

Obviously, this is a massive, complicated, nigh-unreadable regex. I enjoyed the challenge, but you should consider whether you really want to use this in a production environment. Instead of trying to do everything in one step, you could do it in two: a regex to catch anything that might be a number, then another one to weed out whatever isn't a number. Or you could do some basic processing, then use your language's built-in number parsing functions. Your choice.

~ Answered on 2011-05-06 21:33:54

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