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.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 17, 2021)
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:
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:
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.
Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!
Sometimes making sure that a reference in a formula doesn't get changed is not as simple as putting dollar signs in front ...Discover More
Calculating an average of a group of numbers is easy. What if you want to exclude a couple of the numbers from the group ...Discover More
Need to count the number of cells in a range that are not blank? You can use the COUNTA function of a more complex ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
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.