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: Counting Consecutive Negative Numbers.

Counting Consecutive Negative Numbers

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 8, 2014)


Lori has a series of numbers, in adjacent cells, that can be either positive or negative. She would like a way to determine the largest sequence of negative numbers in the range. Thus, if there were seven negative numbers in a row in this sequence, she would like a formula that would return the value 7.

We've looked high and low and can't find a single formula that will do what is wanted. You can, however, do it with an intermediate column. For instance, if you have your numbers in column A (beginning in A1), then you could put the following formula in cell B1:


Then, in cell B2 enter the following:


Copy this down to all the other cells in column B for which there is a value in column A. Then, in a different cell (perhaps cell C1) you can put the following formula:


This value will represent the largest number of consecutive negative values in column A.

If you don't want to create an intermediate column to get the answer, you could create a user-defined function that will return the value.

Function MaxNegSequence(rng As Range)
' search for the largest sequence
' of negative numbers in the range

    Dim c As Range
    Dim lCounter As Long
    Dim lMaxCount As Long
    lCounter = 0
    lMaxCount = 0
    On Error Resume Next
    For Each c In rng.Cells
        If c.Value < 0 Then
            lCounter = lCounter + 1
            If lCounter > lMaxCount Then
                lMaxCount = lCounter
            End If
            lCounter = 0
        End If
    Next c
    MaxNegSequence = lMaxCount
End Function

To use the function, just place a formula similar to the following in your worksheet:

= MaxNegSequence(A1:A512)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3533) 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: Counting Consecutive Negative Numbers.

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. ...


Unwanted Data Changes

The AutoCorrect feature in Excel can change some of your data in ways you don't like. If you discover this is happening, ...

Discover More

Plain Text Pasting as the Default

Pasting 'plain text" into a document is one of the most common ways of pasting information. Wouldn't it be great if this ...

Discover More

Positioning Headers and Footers

Headers and footers can add a finishing touch to your printed documents. Here's how you can position those headers and ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Summing Based on Part of the Information in a Cell

Excel provides a variety of tools that allow you to perform operations on your data based upon the characteristics of ...

Discover More

Segregating Numbers According to Their Sign

Remember your number line from your early years in school? Some numbers can be below zero (negative numbers) and others ...

Discover More

Incrementing Numeric Portions of Serial Numbers

If you use serial numbers that include both letters and numbers, you might wonder how you can increment the numeric ...

Discover More

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

View most recent newsletter.


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 4 + 4?

2014-10-30 19:47:14


Hi thank you so much, I could´t do this only with maxfrecuency, but this fuction is better :)

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

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.