Microsoft Excel COLUMN Function Tutorial

Since 1998

Microsoft Excel COLUMN Function Tutorial

Excel Function Tutorial

The COLUMN Function determines the column number of a single cell or the column numbers of the range you specify.

What is the Microsoft Excel COLUMN Function?

The COLUMN function is a computer program that you run from a worksheet cell formula. It determines the column number of a single cell or the column numbers of the range you specify. You run the COLUMN worksheet function by typing its name in a formula then followed by the information it is suppose to analyze. The sole use of this function is to return the column numbers of a specified range or cell. It is commonly used as a nested function in other functions that require the row and column coordinates of a cell like the ADDRESS function. It is also quite heavily used as a nested function in the IF function where logic is used to determine what column numbers to return from its answer if a range was used as its argument.

How Do You Type the COLUMN Worksheet Function in a Formula?

Whenever you type a formula in a worksheet cell, this is called syntax or grammar. The general COLUMN function syntax has a format like this when you type it in a worksheet cell:


Where [reference] is called the function argument list. Remember, you are running a computer program at this point so the program needs information to operate and that is why there is an argument list. When you see an argument list and you see square brackets [ ] around the argument name, this means the argument is optional and you do not have to include it when typing unless you need it. So for the syntax above, you do not need to include any arguments for the COLUMN function when typing it in a worksheet cell formula in order for it to calculate correctly. What argument value can be used is discussed below. Remember functions expect certain things in their argument lists, if you do not put the correct information in the list they will generate an error when run.

How Do You Run the COLUMN Function?

Since the COLUMN function is a computer program, it runs when you press Enter to enter the formula that contains it. If any of the arguments are wrong, the function will return an error.

What Do I Type for a COLUMN Function Argument?

When typing the COLUMN function in a worksheet cell formula, you can include an argument if you want. Some typical arguments you can use are:

Argument Type Cell Formula Example Explanation
Nothing = Column( ) Returns the column number of the cell it is typed in
Cell Reference  = COLUMN( A1 ) Returns the column number of 1
Range Reference = COLUMN( A1:J1 ) Returns the column numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. Not of any use unless interpreted in some other function by nesting.
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