Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
MAX and MIN—Recording Highs and Lows
COUNT simply counts all the cells in a range (or ranges) which contain numbers —nothing more
mathematical then that. Thus in the above screen shot, if I click cell C17 and select COUNT—and the
method for doing this is identical to AVERAGE and SUM—I’ll drum up a result of 4. But substitute a text
entry for any the cells in Figure 3–16 and my formula result now reports 3.
You may want to ask rather compelling question about COUNT: namely, why would I need to use it?
By way of illustration—if you’re a teacher, you may need to tally the number of tests the students in your
class have taken, for example. Consider the scenario below, in Figure 3187:
Figure 3–18. Jack needs to see the dean
COUNT will thus tell you that Bill has taken 3 exams and Jack has attempted 2, and so needs to
make one up. Or, by way of additional example: if you’ve entered a list of potential donors to a charity on
your sheet and key in the amount of each contribution when it’s received, you’d use SUM to learn how
much money you’ve taken in to date, and COUNT to let you know how many individuals have donated,
by counting each donation. And while you’re at it, you could compute the average size of the donations,
couldn’t you?
But why does Excel advertise COUNT as Count Numbers on its drop-down menu? It does so in
order to distinguish COUNT from another function— COUNTA —which counts all the cells in a range
that contain any kind of data. Thus for the range shown in (Figure 3–19):
Figure 3–19. COUNT or COUNTA—Different results this for range
COUNT will return 3, COUNTA 4. (COUNTA, by the way, is written in the same way as COUNT,
though it’s not included in the above drop-down menu.)
MAX and MIN—Recording Highs and Lows
But let’s return to the entries in the AutoSum menu. MAX and MIN are almost self-evident; they
identify the highest and lowest cells in a range while ignoring blank cells (and text entries), an important
omission in these regards. After all, treating blanks as zero could erroneously yield a MIN of zero among
a range of other cells—and if you’re working with a range consisting entirely of negative numbers,
counting a blank cell as zero could yield a MAX of…zero!
And you’ll doubtless be able to find a broad niche for MAX and MIN in your spreadsheet doings.
And by way of recapitulation—all the functions assigned a place on the AutoSum drop-down menu
are written the same way:
 
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