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: Using the COLUMN Function.

Using the COLUMN Function

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 25, 2020)

Excel includes a nifty little worksheet function that lets you determine the column number of a particular cell reference. Normally columns are designated as A, B, C, and so on, but the COLUMN function returns a numeric value that represents the column. Thus, column A is 1, B is 2, and so on.

You can use the function in the following manner:

=COLUMN(InputRange)

In this instance, the function returns the column of the range named InputRange. If InputRange contains more than one column then only the column number for the first column in the range is returned. You can also use the function without any optional range reference, as follows:

=COLUMN()

When used in this manner, COLUMN returns the column number of the cell in which the COLUMN function is used. Thus, if cell C5 contained =COLUMN(), then the function would return a value of 3.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2305) 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: Using the COLUMN Function.

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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