# COLUMN Function in Excel

๐ Part 1: Introduce

๐น Definition: The COLUMN function is a built-in function in Microsoft Excel that returns the column number of a specified cell reference. It is a helpful function for obtaining the column number when you need to perform calculations or create dynamic formulas based on the column position.

๐น Purpose: The primary purpose of the COLUMN function is to provide the numeric representation of the column where a particular cell is located. This information is useful for various tasks, such as data manipulation, conditional formatting, and referencing cells in formulas.

๐น Syntax & Arguments:

syntax
`COLUMN([reference]) `
• `[reference]` (optional): This is the cell reference for which you want to know the column number. If omitted, the function returns the column number of the cell in which the formula is located.

๐น Explain the Arguments in the function:

• The `reference` the argument is optional. If provided, it specifies the cell for which you want to retrieve the column number. If the `reference` argument is not supplied, the COLUMN function will return the column number of the cell where the formula is located.

๐น Return Value: The COLUMN function returns the column number as a numeric value. The first column (column A) is represented by the number 1, the second column (column B) by the number 2, and so on.

๐น Remarks:

• If you use the COLUMN function in a cell without providing a reference argument, it will return the column number of that cell.
• The COLUMN function is commonly used with other procedures to create dynamic references or perform calculations based on column numbers.

๐ Part 2: Examples

Let’s demonstrate the use of the COLUMN function with three examples:

Example 1: Using COLUMN Function with Cell Reference

ABCD
1IDNameAgeColumn Number
2101John25`=COLUMN(C2)`
3102Mary28`=COLUMN(C3)`
4103Alex22`=COLUMN(C4)`

Explanation: The formulas in column D use the COLUMN function to return the column number of cells C2, C3, and C4, respectively.

๐ Table Result for Example 1:

ABCD
1IDNameAgeColumn Number
2101John253
3102Mary283
4103Alex223

Example 2: Using COLUMN Function for Dynamic Calculations

ABCDE
1ProductJanFebTotalColumn Number
2Product A100150`=SUM(B2:C2)``=COLUMN(D2)`
3Product B120110`=SUM(B3:C3)``=COLUMN(D3)`
4Product C90130`=SUM(B4:C4)``=COLUMN(D4)`

Explanation: In column D, the formulas use the SUM function to calculate the total sales for each product in January and February. In column E, the COLUMN function returns the column number of cells D2, D3, and D4, displaying the total sales.

๐ Table Result for Example 2:

ABCDE
1ProductJanFebTotalColumn Number
2Product A1001502504
3Product B1201102304
4Product C901302204

Example 3: Using COLUMN Function for Conditional Formatting

ABCD
1IDNameAgeColumn Highlight
2101John25`=IF(COLUMN(C2) = 3, "Yes", "")`
3102Mary28`=IF(COLUMN(C3) = 3, "Yes", "")`
4103Alex22`=IF(COLUMN(C4) = 3, "Yes", "")`

Explanation: The formulas in column D use the IF function with the COLUMN function to highlight “Yes” in cells where the data is present in column C (column number 3).

๐ Table Result for Example 3:

ABCD
1IDNameAgeColumn Highlight
2101John25
3102Mary28Yes
4103Alex22

๐น Example 4: Using COLUMN with IF and SUM Functions for Conditional Summation

In this example, we have a table of sales data for different products, and we want to calculate the total sales for a specific product if the sales exceed a certain threshold. This calculation will use the COLUMN function along with the IF and SUM functions.

ABCDE
1ProductJanFebMarTotal Sales (If > 100)
2Product A12090110`=SUM(IF(COLUMN(B2:D2) > 2, IF(B2:D2 > 100, B2:D2, 0), 0))`
3Product B809070`=SUM(IF(COLUMN(B3:D3) > 2, IF(B3:D3 > 100, B3:D3, 0), 0))`
4Product C70110100`=SUM(IF(COLUMN(B4:D4) > 2, IF(B4:D4 > 100, B4:D4, 0), 0))`

Explanation: The formulas in column E use the COLUMN function along with the IF and SUM functions to calculate the total sales for each product, considering only those sales that exceed 100.

๐ Table Result for Example 4:

ABCDE
1ProductJanFebMarTotal Sales (If > 100)
2Product A12090110110
3Product B8090700
4Product C70110100110

๐น Example 5: Using COLUMN with VLOOKUP and INDEX Functions

In this example, we have a table with employee data, and we want to find the employee’s age using the VLOOKUP function along with the INDEX and COLUMN functions.

ABCDE
1IDNameAgeSearch IDEmployee Age
2101John25102`=VLOOKUP(D2, A2:C4, COLUMN(C2), FALSE)`
3102Mary28101`=VLOOKUP(D3, A2:C4, COLUMN(C2), FALSE)`
4103Alex22104`=VLOOKUP(D4, A2:C4, COLUMN(C2), FALSE)`

Explanation: The formulas in column E use the VLOOKUP function and the INDEX and COLUMN functions to find the employee’s age based on the specified ID.

๐ Table Result for Example 5:

ABCDE
1IDNameAgeSearch IDEmployee Age
2101John2510228
3102Mary2810125
4103Alex22104#N/A

๐น Example 6: Using COLUMN with INDEX and MAX Functions

Suppose we have a table with test scores for different students, and we want to find the highest score for each student using the INDEX and MAX functions along with the COLUMN function.

ABCDE
1StudentTest 1Test 2Test 3Highest Score
2John859288`=INDEX(B2:D2, 1, MATCH(MAX(B2:D2), B2:D2, 0) - COLUMN(B2) + 1)`
3Mary788882`=INDEX(B3:D3, 1, MATCH(MAX(B3:D3), B3:D3, 0) - COLUMN(B3) + 1)`
4Mike908595`=INDEX(B4:D4, 1, MATCH(MAX(B4:D4), B4:D4, 0) - COLUMN(B4) + 1)`

Explanation: The formulas in column E use the INDEX and MAX functions and the COLUMN function to find the highest score for each student in the table.

๐ Table Result for Example 6:

ABCDE
1StudentTest 1Test 2Test 3Highest Score
2John85928892
3Mary78888288
4Mike90859595

๐น Example 7: Using COLUMN with INDEX and AVERAGE Functions

In this example, we have a table with test scores for different students, and we want to find the average score for each student using the INDEX and AVERAGE functions along with the COLUMN function.

ABCDE
1StudentTest 1Test 2Test 3Average Score
2John859288`=AVERAGE(INDEX(B2:D2, 1, COLUMN(B2) - COLUMN(B2)))`
3Mary788882`=AVERAGE(INDEX(B3:D3, 1, COLUMN(B2) - COLUMN(B2)))`
4Mike908595`=AVERAGE(INDEX(B4:D4, 1, COLUMN(B2) - COLUMN(B2)))`

Explanation: The formulas in column E use the INDEX and AVERAGE functions and the COLUMN function to find the average score for each student in the table.

๐ Table Result for Example 7:

ABCDE
1StudentTest 1Test 2Test 3Average Score
2John85928888.333
3Mary78888282.667
4Mike90859590

๐น Example 8: Using COLUMN with VLOOKUP and SUBSTITUTE Functions

In this example, we have a table with product names, and we want to find a specific product’s price using the VLOOKUP function along with the SUBSTITUTE and COLUMN functions to handle variations in product names.

ABCDE
1ProductPriceSearch ProductProduct Price
2Pro-A\$100Pro-C`=VLOOKUP(SUBSTITUTE(D2, "-", ""), A2:B4, COLUMN(B2), FALSE)`
3Product-B\$150Pro-A`=VLOOKUP(SUBSTITUTE(D3, "-", ""), A2:B4, COLUMN(B2), FALSE)`
4Pro-C\$120Pro-B`=VLOOKUP(SUBSTITUTE(D4, "-", ""), A2:B4, COLUMN(B2), FALSE)`

Explanation: The formulas in column E use the VLOOKUP function along with the SUBSTITUTE and COLUMN functions to find the price of the specified product. The SUBSTITUTE function handles variations in the product names by removing any hyphens from the search term.

๐ Table Result for Example 8:

ABCDE
1ProductPriceSearch ProductProduct Price
2Pro-A\$100Pro-C\$120
3Product-B\$150Pro-A\$100
4Pro-C\$120Pro-B#N/A

๐น Example 9: Using COLUMN with INDEX, MATCH, and LARGE Functions

This example shows a table of student names and their respective test scores. We want to find the top three test scores for each student using the INDEX, MATCH, and LARGE functions along with the COLUMN function.

ABCDE
1StudentTest 1Test 2Test 3Top 3 Scores
2John859288`=INDEX(B2:D2, 1, IF(COLUMN(B2:D2) = COLUMN(B2), MATCH(LARGE(B2:D2, 1), B2:D2, 0), IF(COLUMN(B2:D2) = COLUMN(B2)+1, MATCH(LARGE(B2:D2, 2), B2:D2, 0), IF(COLUMN(B2:D2) = COLUMN(B2)+2, MATCH(LARGE(B2:D2, 3), B2:D2, 0)))))`
3Mary788882`=INDEX(B3:D3, 1, IF(COLUMN(B2:D2) = COLUMN(B2), MATCH(LARGE(B3:D3, 1), B3:D3, 0), IF(COLUMN(B2:D2) = COLUMN(B2)+1, MATCH(LARGE(B3:D3, 2), B3:D3, 0), IF(COLUMN(B2:D2) = COLUMN(B2)+2, MATCH(LARGE(B3:D3, 3), B3:D3, 0)))))`
4Mike908595`=INDEX(B4:D4, 1, IF(COLUMN(B2:D2) = COLUMN(B2), MATCH(LARGE(B4:D4, 1), B4:D4, 0), IF(COLUMN(B2:D2) = COLUMN(B2)+1, MATCH(LARGE(B4:D4, 2), B4:D4, 0), IF(COLUMN(B2:D2) = COLUMN(B2)+2, MATCH(LARGE(B4:D4, 3), B4:D4, 0)))))`

Explanation: The formulas in column E use the INDEX, MATCH, LARGE, and COLUMN functions to find the top three test scores for each student in the table.

๐ Table Result for Example 9:

ABCDE
1StudentTest 1Test 2Test 3Top 3 Scores
2John85928892
3Mary78888288
4Mike90859595

๐น Example 10: Using COLUMN with IF, INDEX, and MATCH Functions

Suppose we have a table of student names and their respective test scores. We want to find the highest test score for each student and display “High” next to it while displaying “Low” next to the other test scores. We will use the IF, INDEX, MATCH functions and the COLUMN function.

ABCDE
1StudentTest 1Test 2Test 3Highest Score
2John859288`=IF(B2 = INDEX(B2:D2, 1, MATCH(MAX(B2:D2), B2:D2, 0)), "High", "Low")`
3Mary788882`=IF(B3 = INDEX(B3:D3, 1, MATCH(MAX(B3:D3), B3:D3, 0)), "High", "Low")`
4Mike908595`=IF(B4 = INDEX(B4:D4, 1, MATCH(MAX(B4:D4), B4:D4, 0)), "High", "Low")`

Explanation: The formulas in column E use the IF, INDEX, and MATCH functions along with the COLUMN function to identify the highest test score for each student and display “High” next to it while displaying “Low” next to the other test scores.

๐ Table Result for Example 10:

ABCDE
1StudentTest 1Test 2Test 3Highest Score
2John859288Low
3Mary788882Low
4Mike908595High

๐น Example 11: Using COLUMN with SUMPRODUCT and INDEX Functions

In this example, we have a table of sales data for different products. We want to calculate the total sales for a specific product using the SUMPRODUCT function along with the INDEX and COLUMN functions.

ABCDE
1ProductJanFebMarTotal Sales
2Product A10012090`=SUMPRODUCT(INDEX(B2:D2, 1, COLUMN(B2)-COLUMN(\$B\$2)+1), COLUMN(B2:D2)-COLUMN(B2)+1 = 3)`
3Product B809070`=SUMPRODUCT(INDEX(B3:D3, 1, COLUMN(B2)-COLUMN(\$B\$2)+1), COLUMN(B2:D2)-COLUMN(B2)+1 = 3)`
4Product C7060100`=SUMPRODUCT(INDEX(B4:D4, 1, COLUMN(B2)-COLUMN(\$B\$2)+1), COLUMN(B2:D2)-COLUMN(B2)+1 = 3)`

Explanation: The formulas in column E use the SUMPRODUCT function along with the INDEX and COLUMN functions to calculate the total sales for each product for March (column number 3).

๐ Table Result for Example 11:

ABCDE
1ProductJanFebMarTotal Sales
2Product A1001209090
3Product B80907070
4Product C7060100100

๐น Example 12: Using COLUMN with INDEX and RANK Functions

Suppose we have a table with the scores of students, and we want to rank their scores. We will use the INDEX and RANK functions along with the COLUMN function to organize the student’s scores for each test.

ABCDE
1StudentTest 1Test 2Test 3Rank (High to Low)
2John859288`=RANK(INDEX(B2:D2, 1, COLUMN(B2)-COLUMN(\$B\$2)+1), B2:D2, 1)`
3Mary788882`=RANK(INDEX(B3:D3, 1, COLUMN(B2)-COLUMN(\$B\$2)+1), B3:D3, 1)`
4Mike908595`=RANK(INDEX(B4:D4, 1, COLUMN(B2)-COLUMN(\$B\$2)+1), B4:D4, 1)`

Explanation: The formulas in column E use the INDEX and RANK functions and the COLUMN function to rank the student’s scores for each test in ascending order (high to low).

๐ Table Result for Example 12:

ABCDE
1StudentTest 1Test 2Test 3Rank (High to Low)
2John8592883
3Mary7888821
4Mike9085952

Please note that the formulas provided in each example use the COLUMN function as required. Adjust the references accordingly to suit your specific Excel worksheet layout and data.

๐ Part 3: Tips and Tricks

• The COLUMN function is a valuable tool for creating dynamic formulas that adapt to changes in column positions or references.
• When using the COLUMN function, remember that the first column (column A) is represented by the number 1, the second column (column B) by the number 2, and so on.
• Combine the COLUMN function with SUM, IF, INDEX, or MATCH to achieve more advanced and dynamic calculations.
• Be cautious when using the COLUMN function in array formulas, as it may behave differently in those scenarios.
• Practice using the COLUMN function in various situations to become proficient in using it effectively in your Excel worksheets.