How to use the COUNTIF function
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
COUNTIF(range, criteria)
Arguments
range  Required. The cell range you want to count the cells meeting a condition. 
criteria  Required. The condition that you want to count. 
Comments
The condition is not case sensitive.
Table of Contents
 Example 1  Count with single criterion
 Example 2  Count cells larger/less than a criterion
 Example 3  Count cells containing a text string
 Example 4  Absolute and relative cell reference
 Example 5  Array formula
 Download example file
Example 1  Count with a single criterion
The following formula in cell D5 counts the number of cells within cell range C6:C13 that meet criterion "Lucy":
=COUNTIF(C6:C13, "Lucy")
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:
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":
Example 4  Absolute and relative cell reference
Formula in cell C6:
=COUNTIF($B$6:B6,B6)
$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$6:B6 "grows" when you copy the cell.
This technique is used in this popular post: Filter unique distinct values
In cell C20:
=COUNTIF($B$6:B20,B20)
becomes
=COUNTIF({"Watermelon"; "Banana"; "Orange"; "Kiwi"; "Lemon"; "Apple"; "Apricot"; "Banana"; "Pear"; "Apple"; "Pineapple"; "Banana"; "Pear"; "Pear"; "plum"},"plum") and returns 1 in cell C20.
Example 5  Array formula
Array formula in cell range C6:C20:
=COUNTIF(B6:B20, B6:B20)
How to enter an array formula
 Select cell range C6:C20

Copy / Paste formula to formula bar
 Press and hold CTRL + SHIFT
 Press Enter
 Release all keys
Explaining the array formula
The COUNTIF function counts the number of cells within a range that meet a single criterion. In this example I am using multiple values in the criteria argument.
Each value is in the criteria argument is used as a criterion and the returning array has the same number of values as the criteria argument.
The technique described here is used in this popular post: Count unique distinct values
=COUNTIF(B6:B20, B6:B20)
becomes
=COUNTIF({"Watermelon"; "Banana"; "Orange"; "Kiwi"; "Lemon"; "Apple"; "Apricot"; "Banana"; "Pear"; "Apple"; "Pineapple"; "Banana"; "Pear"; "Pear"; "plum"},{"Watermelon"; "Banana"; "Orange"; "Kiwi"; "Lemon"; "Apple"; "Apricot"; "Banana"; "Pear"; "Apple"; "Pineapple"; "Banana"; "Pear"; "Pear"; "plum"})
and returns {1; 3; 1; 1; 1; 2; 1; 3; 3; 2; 1; 3; 3; 3; 1} in cell range C6:C20.
Download excel *.xlsx file
Articles with the 'COUNTIF' Function
The following 7 articles have formulas that contain the COUNTIF function.
5 easy ways to extract Unique Distinct Values
First, let me explain the difference between unique values and unique distinct values, it is important you know the difference [โฆ]
How to create a list of random unique numbers
Question: How do I create a random list of unique numbers from say 1 to 10, without using VBA and [โฆ]
This article describes how to count unique distinct values. What are unique distinct values? They are all values but duplicates are [โฆ]
Extract shared values between two columns
Question: How can I compare two columns to find values that exists in both cell ranges? The picture above shows [โฆ]
The easiest way to check if a cell contains a specific text string is, in my opinion, the IF and [โฆ]
How to use the COUNTIF function to count not blank cells
The COUNTIF function is very capable of counting nonempty values. Column B above have a few blank cells, they are [โฆ]
Use IF + COUNTIF to perform numerous conditions
The COUNTIF function allows you to construct a small IF formula that carries out plenty of logical expressions. Combining the IF [โฆ]
Functions in 'Statistical'
The COUNTIF function function is one of many functions in the 'Statistical' category.
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The AVERAGEIFS function returns the average of cell values that evaluates to TRUE for multiple criteria. Formula in cell F6: =AVERAGEIFS(D3:D8,B3:B8,F3,C3:C8,G3) [โฆ]
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Counts the number of cells that meet a specific condition.
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[...] COUNTIF(range,criteria) Counts the number of cells within a range that meet the given condition [...]
[โฆ] COUNTIF(range,criteria) Counts the number of cells within a range that meet the given condition [โฆ]
[โฆ] COUNTIF(range,criteria) Counts the number of cells within a range that meet the given condition [โฆ]
[โฆ] COUNTIF(range,criteria) Counts the number of cells within a range that meet the given condition [โฆ]
I need a formula that will count the number of cells containing dates in column C1 to C10 that are less than or equal to the dates in column A1 to A10.