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: Returning the Smallest Non-Zero Value.

Returning the Smallest Non-Zero Value

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 17, 2021)

1

Mark is hoping to find the smallest non-zero value in a set of values. For example, if he has the values 0,0,3,0,6,8, he would want the value 3 (the smallest non-zero value) returned by a formula. Mark knows he can use the SMALL function with the second argument calculated by using a COUNTIF to count the number of zeroes in the range. However, he wants to use this inside of an array formula, and Excel can't handle COUNTIFs inside of array formulas.

Since Mark is only interested in array formulas (entered by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Enter), then there are a couple that could be used. The following array formula is worth looking at first:

=MIN(IF(A1:A5=0,MAX(A1:A5),A1:A5))

Assuming the values to be examined are in A1:A5, this formula puts together an array of non-zero values from that range. If the value in one of the cells is 0, then the MAX function kicks in, returning the largest value from the range. (This essentially kicks the value at that cell—originally 0—out of consideration as the smallest value.) If the value in one of the cells is not 0, then the actual value is returned. The MIN function then returns the lowest value from the array.

You can make the formula even shorter by turning it around in this manner:

=MIN(IF(A1:A5<>0,A1:A5))

Note that in this version, the value in each cell of the range is checked to see if it isn't 0. If it isn't, then the value is returned. If it is 0, then nothing is returned. Again, the MIN function is used to return the lowest value from the array.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3260) 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: Returning the Smallest Non-Zero Value.

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 four less than 7?

2022-05-02 17:42:58

Greg Miller

Allen,

Thank you for this helpful tip. I came across while search for solutions to finding the three smallest non-zero values.

Since both SMALL and MIN ignore logical values, the solution works well. For example,
when A1:A5 is { 2; 0; 1; 14; 9 }
then A1:A5<>0
returns { 2; FALSE; 1; 14; 9 }
Since SMALL will ignore the logical value, SMALL(A1:A5<>0,{1;2;3}) will return 1; 2; 9. Since I am using EXCEL 365, I used SEQUENCE(3) instead of the hard-coded array.


I have commonly used the "double unary" of two negatives to coax numerical values out of logical values, but it was a pleasant discovery to realize that the trait of many EXCEL functions to ignore text, empty cells, and logical values can be put to good use.


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