Being Choosy: Using the COUNTIF Function in Excel


As we discussed in yesterday's post, Excel provides a number of helpful ways to count things because it's something spreadsheets are deservedly famous for:  stacking big hunks of data in an orderly way so that humans can make sense of it!

COUNTIF has a number of advantages over COUNT, especially if the criteria we are trying to count is a bit more nuanced than just looking for any ol' number.

Let's take the same four columns of data as we worked with yesterday.

But instead of using COUNT to total up the number of values, we'll use COUNTIF with the condition that we're only counting cells whose values are greater than zero.

What makes COUNTIF so powerful is the fact that it has an embedded error catching function--when it encounters uncountable cell values (those that don't match the condition or are of an entirely different data type), it doesn't choke!  COUNTIF perseveres through such difficulties and faithfully returns the number of successful matches.

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