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Segregating Numbers According to Their Sign

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Segregating Numbers According to Their Sign.

Are you working with a large set of data consisting of mixed values, some negative and some positive, that you want to separate into columns based on their sign? There are several ways this can be approached. One method is simply to use a formula in the columns to the right of the mixed column. For instance, if the mixed column is in column A, then you could place the following formula in the cells of column B:

=IF(A2>0,A2,0)

This results in column B only containing values that are greater than zero. In column C you could then use this formula:

=IF(A2<0,A2,0)

This column would only contain values less than zero. The result is two new columns (B and C) that are the same length as the original column. Column B is essentially the same as column A, except that negative values are replaced by zero, while column C replaces positive values with zero.

If you want to end up with columns that only contain negative or positive values (no zeroes), then you can use the filtering capabilities of Excel. Assuming the mixed values are in column A, follow these steps:

  1. If you have a column heading in cell A1, copy it to cell E1.
  2. In cell E2, place the formula >0.
  3. Select any cell in the mixed values of column A.
  4. Choose Filter from the Data menu, then choose Advanced Filter from the resulting submenu. Excel displays the Advanced Filter dialog box. The List Range should already be filled in, representing the range of mixed values in Column A. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Advanced Filter dialog box.

  6. Make sure the Copy to Another Location radio button is selected.
  7. Select the Criteria Range box and then use the mouse to select cells E1:E2. This tells Excel that you only want cells in the original range that are greater than zero.
  8. Select the Copy To box and click once in cell B1.
  9. Click on OK. Column B now contains cells that are greater than zero.
  10. In cell E2, place the formula <0.
  11. Again choose Filter from the Data menu, then choose Advanced Filter from the resulting submenu. Excel displays the Advanced Filter dialog box. The settings in the dialog box should be the same as the last time you used them.
  12. Select everything in the Copy To box, and then click once in cell C1.
  13. Click on OK. Column C now contains cells that are less than zero.

You now have the desired two columns of positive and negative values. You can also delete the cells at E1:E2 if you desire.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3198) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Segregating Numbers According to Their Sign.

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