The COUNTIF function calculates the number of cells that is equal to a condition.
Formula in cell D3:
Lucy is found twice, in cell B3 and B7, the function returns 2 in cell D3.
Excel Function Syntax
Required. The cell range you want to count the cells meeting a condition.
Required. The condition that you want to count.
The condition is not case sensitive meaning condition "lucy" will also return 2 demonstrated in the image above.
Note that you can use multiple conditions in the second argument, however, you need to enter the formula as an array formula.
You no longer need to enter the formula as an array formula if you are a subscriber of Office 365, the new feature is called "Dynamic Arrays" and was introduced to Excel in January 2020.
It will automatically detect if a formula returns more than one value and will extend accordingly based on the number of values that are being returned, this is called spilling.
The image above demonstrates this behavior, the formula has extended automatically to cells below as far as needed. A blue border indicates that spilling has occured, however, it will disappear as soon as you click outside the formula range.
The following formula in cell D5 counts the number of cells within cell range C6:C13 that meet criterion "Lucy":
Lucy is hardcoded into the formula in this example, however, you are not required to write the actual value in the formula. You can use a cell reference instead if you like.
Hardcoded values means that the formula contains written values and cell references are not being used. The downside is that you need to change the formula if you need to use another value.
Cell reference C6:C13 is a relative cell reference meaning it will change if you copy the cell (not the formula) and paste to other cells. Add dollar signs, to prevent this behavior, which will lock the cell reference. Example, $C$6:$C$13.
Example 2 - Count cells larger/less than a criterion
The following formula in cell D5 counts the number of cells within cell range C6:C13 that is larger than or equal to 500. The image above has six numbers in cell range C6:C14 that are larger than or equal to 500.
The formula in cell D5 returns 6, the following six numbers 512, 674, 960, 796, 940 and 848 are larger than 500.
You can use these operators:
< less than
> larger than
= equal sign
<= less than or equal to
>=larger than or equal to
<> not equal to
Remember to use double quotes when you combine a number with an operator.
Example 3 - Count cells containing a text string
The following formula in cell D5 counts the number of cells within cell range C6:C13 that contains the text string "apple":
The asterisk matches no characters, any single character or any multiple characters. That is why "*apple*" matches "Orange, Apple", note also that the COUNTIF function is not taking into account upper and lower letters.
There is one more wildcard character you can use which is the question mark. The question mark allows you to match any single character.
The formula above utilizes this condition "*appl?" and matches two cells in cell range C6:C13, displayed in the above image. They are "Orange, Apple" and "Kiwi, Pineapple".
Example 4 - Absolute and relative cell reference
With clever use of absolute and relative cell references you can build formulas containing cell references that expand automatically when you copy the cell and paste to cells below.
Formula in cell C6:
$B$6:B6 is a cell reference to cell B6. When the cell is copied to cells below, the cell reference changes. The first part $B$6 i always locked to cell B6, the last part B6 changes. Cell range $B$6:B6 "grows" when you copy the cell.
This extensive function reference list provides detailed information including syntax, arguments, return values, and examples for many of the functions used in Excel formulas. Click on headers to sort table.
Articles with the 'COUNTIF' Function
The following 7 articles have formulas that contain the COUNTIF function.