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Counting Commas in a Selection

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: Counting Commas in a Selection.

At work, Mark regularly needs to count the number of commas in a range of selected cells. He can't find an Excel function to do this type of task, and is wondering if a macro might be able to do the trick.

While there is no worksheet function that will produce the desired count, there is a formula or two you can use. If you just want to know the number of cells that have at least one comma in them, the following formula will work just fine:

=COUNTIF(A1:A10,"*,*")

If you, instead, need to figure out the number of commas in the range when there could be multiple commas per cell, then you need to use a different formula:

=SUM(LEN(A1:A10))-SUM(LEN(SUBSTITUTE(A1:A10,",","")))

This formula should be entered as an array formula, which means that you should use Ctrl+Shift+Enter to enter the formula. If you need to derive the count for a different range, just change the range in two places in the formula.

If you prefer, you could also create a user-defined function to count the number of commas. There are multiple ways to approach such a task; the following is just one example.

Function CountComma(rng As Range)
    Dim iCount As Integer
    Dim rCell As Range
    Dim sTemp As String

    Application.Volatile
    iCount = 0
    For Each rCell In rng
        sTemp = Application.WorksheetFunction. _
          Substitute(rCell.Value, ",", "")
        iCount = iCount + _
          (Len(rCell.Value) - Len(sTemp))
    Next
    CountComma = iCount
    Set rCell = Nothing
    Set rng = Nothing
End Function

In order to use the function in the worksheet, enter the following into a cell:

=CountComma(A1:A10)

All of these methods described so far will count commas that are actually in the cell. They will not count commas that appear to be in the cell because of formatting. For instance, if a number appears as "1,234" in a cell, chances are good that the comma is there because of the way that the cell is formatted; it is not really in the cell itself. Such commas are not counted.

Of course, if all you need to do is know the number of commas and you don't need the value in your worksheet, you can bypass the use of formulas and macros all together. Follow these general steps:

  1. Select the range of cells in which you want to count commas.
  2. Press Ctrl+H to display the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  3. In the Find What box, enter a comma.
  4. In the Replace With box, enter a comma.
  5. Click Replace All.

Excel does the replacement and displays a dialog box that shows how many replacements were made.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3460) 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: Counting Commas in a Selection.

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Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

 

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Comments for this tip:

John    12 Apr 2015, 15:20
This was extremely helpful for assessing some survey results. Thanks!
john    14 Jul 2014, 11:08
Hi,

If the Range is large, it will take quite some time to run the macro, because Excel will have to sweep every Cell in the Range.

Can Replacement:=... help?

Just a thought.

Thanks.
 
 

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