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: Cell and Name References in COUNTIF.

Cell and Name References in COUNTIF

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 10, 2015)

Larry has a worksheet that uses the COUNTIF function extensively. A typical use would be similar to the following:

=COUNTIF(B5:B25,">=2")

This works fine, but Larry would like to specify the second parameter using a cell or name reference, as in ">=B3" or ">=Goal". Problem is, Larry can't get those types of references to work.

Indeed, if you use the following syntax for COUNTIF, you will not get the results you want:

=COUNTIF(B5:B25,">=B3")

The reason is because everything within the quotes is considered to be part of a string literal. In other words, B3 doesn't (in this case) represent a cell reference, but the two characters B and 3.

The solution is to take the cell reference outside of the quote marks, in this manner:

=COUNTIF(B5:B25,">=" & B3)

In this case the B3 is not literal, but a reference to the contents of cell B3. If, for instance, cell B3 contains the value 49, then this instance of COUNTIF is translated in this manner:

=COUNTIF(B5:B25,">=49")

If you want to use a cell reference in the formula, and you will be copying that cell reference elsewhere in your worksheet, then you may want to make sure that you use an absolute reference to the cell, as in this usage:

=COUNTIF(B5:B25,">=" & $B$3)

That way you can copy the formula without Excel changing the B3 cell reference to some other cell. You can similarly use a named cell reference in your formula using the same technique:

=COUNTIF(B5:B25,">=" & Goal)

If you prefer, you could also simply put a criteria for COUNTIF in the cell you are referencing. For instance, cell B3 could contain the text ">=49", without the quote marks. You could then simplify your use of COUNTIF in this manner:

=COUNTIF(B5:B25,B3)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3813) 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: Cell and Name References in COUNTIF.

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

Saving Form Data for a Database

Use Word to create a form, and you can easily collect standardized data from a large number of users. When it comes time to ...

Discover More

Fields Won't Update when Printing

When you print a document, Word normally performs several steps, one of which is to update any fields contained in the ...

Discover More

Finding Wayward Links

Combining workbooks that have cross-links to each other can offer some special challenges. This tip examines how you can get ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

MORE EXCELTIPS (MENU)

Using the FORECAST Function

Excel provides a handy worksheet function that allows you to forecast values based upon a set of known values. This function, ...

Discover More

Counting within Criteria

You can use the COUNTIF function to determine how many cells in a range fit your criteria. One criterion is easy; using ...

Discover More

Counting Cells with Specific Characters

Excel is used by many people to hold all sorts of data, not just numbers. If you have cells that include meaningful leading ...

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 for this tip:

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. 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 8 - 1?

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


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.

Links and Sharing
Share