Counting within Criteria

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 16, 2013)

There may be times when you need to count the number of cells in a range which fit a specific criteria. For instance, you may want to know how many cells in a range are over a specific threshold. The natural worksheet function to do this task is COUNTIF. As an example, you may want to know how many cells in the range of A1 through C15 contain a value of 120 or more. The following formula provides the proper count:

=COUNTIF(A1:C15,">119")

The only problem is if you want to add a second criterion to the formula. COUNTIF does not allow you to specify multiple criteria, so you need to resort to formula that is a bit more complex. For instance, if you wanted to know how many cells in the range of A1 through C15 contain a value between 120 and 129, inclusive, you could use the following:

=COUNTIF(A1:C15,">119")-COUNTIF(A1:C15,"<130")

This formula first calculates the number of cells with values at 120 or above and then subtracts the number of cells with values of 129 or below. Astute readers will see an immediate problem with this formula, however—it delivers an erroneous result if there are any cells in the range below 120. They are not counted by the first part of the formula, but they are counted in the result by the second part of the formula. To fix this problem the formula should instead appear as follows:

=COUNT(A1:C15)-COUNTIF(A1:C15,">119")-COUNTIF(A1:C15,"<130")

Another way to solve this problem without using the COUNT function is to simply count the cells that contain a value of less than 130 and then subtract the cells that contain a value of less than 120. This formula gives the same result as the last one:

=COUNTIF(A1:C15,"<130")-COUNTIF(A1:C15,"<120")

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2166) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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