The COUNT function is a computer program that you run from a worksheet cell formula. It counts the number of cells that have numbers in them in a given worksheet area (called a range). You run the COUNT function by typing its name in a formula then followed by the information it is suppose to count. The COUNT function is generally used to determine things like how many of something do I have based on the number of numeric entries. For instance, if you have a worksheet with sales information in it and you wanted to count how many sales you made, you could have the COUNT function look down a column or row and determine how many cells had numbers in them which would indicate the number sales based on occupied rows. This function, however, does not sum the values of the cells, it only counts that they exist. The COUNT worksheet function is capable of looking at thousands of cell values together at once. The COUNT function is most commonly used to look across a row of numbers or down a column of numbers on the worksheet.

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

=COUNT(value1,[value2], ...)

Where value1, [value2] ..... are 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 need to include one argument for the COUNT function when typing it in a worksheet cell formula in order for it to calculate correctly. How many arguments can be placed in the list is dependent upon the Excel version you are using. What argument values can be used are 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.

Since the COUNT 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.

When typing the COUNT function in a worksheet cell formula, you need to replace the value1... argument list with arguments separating each one with a comma (,) if you are using more than one. Since the COUNT function counts how many numbers you have it expects numbers. Some typical arguments you can use are:

Argument Type | Cell Formula | Example Explanation |

Cell Reference | = COUNT( A1, B1 ) | Count how many numbers are in cells A1 and B1 |

Range Reference | = COUNT( A1:A10 ) | Count how many numbers are in cells A1 to A10 |

Column Reference | = COUNT( C:C ) | Count how many numbers are in column C |

Row Reference | = COUNT( 1:1 ) | Count how many numbers are in row 1 |

Multiple Columns and Rows | = COUNT( A1:A10, C1:C10 ) | Count how many numbers are in A1 to A10 and from C1 to C10 |

Cell and Range Names | = COUNT( Sales_2012 ) | Count how many numbers are in the range named Sales_2012 * |

* It is possible to name a cell or group of cells on a worksheet and use that name in place of a range reference or cell reference. Consult Excel help on how to name a cell.

The worksheet seen below contains some typical worksheet formulas that run the COUNTA worksheet function. Pay close attention to the argument list and the syntax used to write the formula.

A | B | C | |

1 | Quantity | = COUNT( A1:A100 ) | Counts how many numbers are in cells A1 to A100 |

2 | 100 | ||

3 | 200 | ||

4 | 300 | ||

5 | 400 | ||

6 | 500 |

- COUNT is used in statistical evaluations (how many people typed numbers in these cells for example) and to determine the number of records (rows) in a table.
- Arguments that are numbers, dates, or text representation of numbers are counted.
- Logical values and text representations of numbers that you type directly into the list of arguments are counted.
- Arguments that are error values or text that cannot be translated into numbers are ignored.
- If an argument is an array or reference, only numbers in that array or reference are counted. Empty cells, logical values, text, or error values in the array or reference are ignored.

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