This article describes the formula syntax and usage of the COLUMN function (function: A prewritten formula that takes a value or values, performs an operation, and returns a value or values. Use functions to simplify and shorten formulas on a worksheet, especially those that perform lengthy or complex calculations.) in Microsoft Office Excel. Find links to more information about formatting columns in the See Also section.
Returns the column number of the given cell reference (cell reference: The set of coordinates that a cell occupies on a worksheet. For example, the reference of the cell that appears at the intersection of column B and row 3 is B3.). For example, the formula =COLUMN(D10) returns 4, because column D is the fourth column.
The COLUMN function syntax has the following argument (argument: A value that provides information to an action, an event, a method, a property, a function, or a procedure.):
- reference Optional. The cell or range (range: Two or more cells on a sheet. The cells in a range can be adjacent or nonadjacent.) of cells for which you want to return the column number.
- If the reference argument is omitted or refers to a range of cells, and if the COLUMN function is entered as a horizontal array formula, the COLUMN function returns the column numbers of reference as a horizontal array.
To enter a formula as an array formula Starting with the formula cell, select the range that you want to contain the array formula. Press F2, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER.
- If the reference argument is a range of cells, and if the COLUMN function is not entered as a horizontal array formula, the COLUMN function returns the number of the leftmost column.
- If the reference argument is omitted, it is assumed to be the reference of the cell in which the COLUMN function appears.
- The reference argument cannot refer to multiple areas.
The example may be easier to understand if you copy it to a blank worksheet.
How do I copy an example?
- Select the example in this article. If you are copying the example in Excel Web App, copy and paste one cell at a time.Important Do not select the row or column headers.
Selecting an example from Help
- Press CTRL+C.
- Create a blank workbook or worksheet.
- In the worksheet, select cell A1, and press CTRL+V. If you are working in Excel Web App, repeat copying and pasting for each cell in the example.
Important For the example to work properly, you must paste it into cell A1 of the worksheet.
- To switch between viewing the results and viewing the formulas that return the results, press CTRL+` (grave accent), or on the Formulas tab, in the Formula Auditing group, click the Show Formulas button.
After you copy the example to a blank worksheet, you can adapt it to suit your needs.
||Column in which the formula appears
||1 — Because no argument is specified, the function returns the value of the column that contains the formula. In this case, the formula is in a cell in column A, so the function returns 1.
||Column number of the reference C10
||3 — Because column C is the third column, the function returns 3.