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 July 17, 2015)

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Backing Up Custom Dictionaries

The custom dictionary used in Excel contains the information you decide relative to spelling. After a while, you might ...

Discover More

Hyphenating a Selection

Word provides a hyphenation tool that can help you hyphenate words within a document. If you want to apply hyphenation to ...

Discover More

Converting to ASCII Text

When you work with imported or pasted data in an Excel worksheet, you may see some strange looking characters at times. ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Looking Up Names when Key Values are Identical

Need to look up some values based upon some key items that may be identical to each other? Depending on the ...

Discover More

Returning Blanks with VLOOKUP

Normally the VLOOKUP function returns a value, and if it can't return a value it returns a zero. Here's how you can use ...

Discover More

Looking Backward through a Data Table

Sometimes you need to look backward, through the information above your formula, to find the data you need. This can be ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is eight minus 3?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.