The Excel COUNTIF Function

Basic Description

The Excel Countif function returns the number of cells within a supplied range, that satisfy a given criteria.

The syntax of the function is:

COUNTIF( range, criteria )

Where the function arguments are as follows:

range-The range of cells that should be tested against the supplied criteria and counted if the criteria is satisfied.
criteria-A user-defined condition that is tested against each of the cells in the supplied range.

Wildcards

You can also use the following wildcards in text-related criteria:

?    -    matches any single character
*    -    matches any sequence of characters

if you do actually want to find the ? or * character, type the ~ symbol before this character in your search.

E.g. the condition "A*e" will match all cells containing a text string beginning with "A" and ending in "e".

The supplied criteria can be either:

oror

Note that if your criteria is a text string or an expression, this must be supplied to the function in quotes.

Also note that the Excel Countif function is not case-sensitive. So, for example, the text strings "TEXT" and "text" will be considered to be equal.


Excel Countif Function Examples

Countif Function Example 1

 ABCD
1Sunday07-Sep-20080TRUE
2Monday08-Sep-20082.1TRUE
3Wednesday10-Sep-20082TRUE
4Thursday11-Sep-20083FALSE
5Wednesday17-Sep-20082.5FALSE
6Tuesday23-Sep-20083FALSE
7Wednesday24-Sep-20086FALSE
8Sunday05-Oct-20084FALSE
9Saturday11-Oct-20080FALSE

The following example shows the Excel Countif function used to count cells containing text strings, numeric values, dates or logical values within the above data spreadsheet on the right.

The format and results of the functions are shown in the spreadsheets below.

 Formulas:
 A
11=COUNTIF( A1:A9, "Wednesday" )
12=COUNTIF( A1:A9, "<>Wednesday" )
13=COUNTIF( B1:B9, ">01/10/2008" )
14=COUNTIF( C1:C9, 0 )
15=COUNTIF( C1:C9, ">=3" )
16=COUNTIF( D1:D9, TRUE )
 Results:
 A
113
126
132
142
154
163

Countif Function Example 2

In the following example, the Excel Countif function is used to identify duplicates in a column containing reference numbers. The function works by counting the number of times the reference number in column A of the current row has occurred so far.

Note that the function in this example uses a combination of relative and absolute cell references, so that, as the formula is copied down column B of the spreadsheet, the reference to A$2:A2 is automatically updated to A$2:A3, A$2:A4, A$2:A5, etc.

This ensures that only the repeated instances of a duplicate value are highlighted. I.e. The function does not highlight the first instance of a value.

 Formulas:
 AB
1Ref 
2AAA111=COUNTIF( A$2:A2, A2 )
3BBB222=COUNTIF( A$2:A3, A3 )
4CCC333=COUNTIF( A$2:A4, A4 )
5AAA111=COUNTIF( A$2:A5, A5 )
6DDD444=COUNTIF( A$2:A6, A6 )
7    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
 Results:
 AB
1Ref 
2AAA1111
3BBB2221
4CCC3331
5AAA1112
6DDD4441
7    .
    .
    .
.
.
.

The above 'Results' spreadsheet shows that the Excel Countif function has, as expected, identified the duplicate reference in cell A5 of the spreadsheet.


For further examples in which the Countif function is used to identify duplicates, see the Find Excel Duplicates and Remove Excel Duplicates pages of this site. The Microsoft Office website also provides further examples of this function.


Countif Function Common Error

If you get an error from the Excel Countif Function, this is likely to be the #VALUE! error:

Common Error
#VALUE!-Occurs if the supplied criteria argument is a text string that is greater than 255 characters in length.