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: Deriving High and Low Non-Zero Values.

Deriving High and Low Non-Zero Values

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 27, 2015)


There may be times when you need to derive the smallest (or largest) value from a range, unless the smallest (or largest) value is zero. For instance, you might have a range of values such as {0, 3, 1, 4, 2}. In this case, the lowest value is zero, but the value you really want returned is 1.

There is no intrinsic function within Excel to return a value as stipulated here. However, you can create a formula that will do the trick. Assuming that the range of values you want to analyze are in C4:C8, the following formula will return the lowest non-zero value:


This formula uses the MIN function to determine if the lowest value in the range is zero. If it is, then the SMALL function is used to derive the lowest value, excluding the zeros. (The COUNTIF function returns the number of zeros in the range, and therefore tells SMALL which item from the range to pick.)

A small change to the formula allows it to be used to return the largest non-zero number in a range:


These formulas will work for any range, unless the range is made up entirely of zeros. In that instance, a #NUM! error is returned.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2332) 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: Deriving High and Low Non-Zero Values.

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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What is five more than 3?

2015-06-30 11:33:21

Willy Vanhaelen


The MAX function works fine as long as there is at least one positive value in the range but if none of the values are positive it will return zero which is not the goal.

2015-06-29 11:42:29

Michael (Micky) Avidan

I'm more than happy to get feedbacks (and I'm not ashamed for, SOMETIMES, be proven being wrong).
1) I do hope you'll check, again, your remark regarding my suggestion for using the MAX function.
2) As for the MIN suggestion - I used Allen's examples and didn't noticed they are all positive.
Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2015)

2015-06-28 12:37:22

Willy Vanhaelen


The formulas you propose don't work if the range contains also negative numbers.

These ones do:

2015-06-27 05:44:52

Michael (Micky) Avidan

For the MIN I would suggest an Array formula, such as:
For the MAX value, just use the simplest formula:
Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2015)

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