The **MIN, MAX, SMALL and LARGE functions** in Excel are fairly straight forward, but I’d like to show you a couple of tricks that won’t be obvious from reading the Excel help files.

**First of all the syntax for MIN and MAX functions:**

=MIN(number1, [number2],….)

=MAX(number1, [number2],….)

The ‘number’ can be keyed directly into the formula, or you can enter a cell range (e.g. B15:F15) or a range name.

**Syntax for SMALL and LARGE functions:**

=SMALL(array,k)

=LARGE(array,k)

Where the ‘array’ can be a cell range or a range name, and ‘k’ is the position in the array you want found.

Note the following formulas give the same result:

=LARGE(array,1) is the same as =MAX(number1,[number2]…) both return the biggest number.

=SMALL(array,1) is the same as =MIN(number1,[number2]…) both return the smallest number.

In these cases it is more efficient to use MAX or MIN as they require less computing by Excel.

Whilst this may not be an issue for small workbooks, if you work with large volumes of data, as is common when working with statistics, then you’ll want to preserve all your CPU for the more complex formulas.

**MIN, MAX, SMALL, LARGE Examples**

Let’s look at an example or each using the values below:

=MIN(B4:F4)

= 1

=MAX(B4:F4)

=7

=SMALL(B4:F4,2) i.e. the second smallest

= 2

=LARGE(B4:F4,2) i.e. the second largest

= 5

**MIN and MAX Trick**

What say we want to calculate when overtime occurs? We know that the normal hours per day are 7.5 and anything higher than that is deemed to be overtime.

We could set up a table like this:

Where the formula in cell B20 for Ordinary Hours is:

**=MIN($B$10,B22) **

i.e. If B10 (normal hours) is smaller than B22 (total hours) then enter the value from B22 (total hours) in the cell, otherwise enter the value in B10 (normal hours).

And the formula in cell B21 for Overtime is:

**=MAX(0,B22-$B$10)**

i.e. If 0 is bigger than B22-B10 (total hours minus normal hours) then enter 0 in the cell, otherwise enter the result of B22-B10 (total hours minus normal hours).

**LARGE and SMALL Trick**

So we know that

=LARGE(array,2)

will return the second largest number in the array, but what if we wanted to sum the top 3 numbers in the array?

Let’s use our original values below for this example:

We sum the top 3 values using a formula like this:

=SUM(LARGE(B4:F4,{1,2,3}))

=15

Likewise we can sum the bottom 3 values like this:

=SUM(SMALL(B4:F4,{1,2,3}))

=6

*Take note of the use of curly brackets { } in these formulas.* These are typically used in array formulas but in this instance you **don’t **need to enter the formula using SHIFT+ENTER as you normally do for an array formula, it will work just like a regular formula.

George Duffey says

I need to find the unique (only one) smallest number in a set of cells that are not contiguous (not in a row next to each other.) It seems neither small nor min will give me this as a unique number in a series. Can you help? I then want to use conditional formatting to make these stand out as a bigger or colored number.

If it is not a unique number, then I do not wish to use conditional formatting.

Catalin Bombea says

Hi George,

Please upload a sample file to Help Desk so we can see your data structure. Is data on rows, on columns, or in a range of multiple rows and columns?

Catalin

Uma says

Hi Mynda,

Can you please check this?

If B10 is smaller than B22, as per the formula B10 value will be entered in the cell and not B22

Where the formula in cell B20 for Ordinary Hours is:

=MIN($B$10,B22)

i.e. If B10 (normal hours) is smaller than B22 (total hours) then enter the value from B22 (total hours) in the cell, otherwise enter the value in B10 (normal hours)

Catalin Bombea says

Hi Uma,Help Desk.

Your example:

“i.e. If B10 (normal hours) is smaller than B22 (total hours) then enter the value from B22 (total hours) in the cell, otherwise enter the value in B10 (normal hours)” is translated into a formula like this:

=IF(B10

Catalin

marilyn says

cOULD YOU PLEASE HElp me with the formula to be used , i have an employee masterlist having column(empno,name,date of birth,age,gender,section ,so on and so forth.But i need to generate on separate sheet , showing number of employees who are female and male, considering thier age range from 21-30,31-40,41-50,51-60,above and need to filter per section.

Could yu please give me appropriate formula for this?

Catalin Bombea says

Hi Marilyn,

Can you please upload a sample workbook with your data structure? From you generic explanations, the answer is vague: you can use an INDEX MATCH combination, or an all matches formula, like: =IFERROR(INDEX($A$5:$B$11,SMALL(IF($A$5:$A$11=$E$4,ROW($A$5:$A$11)-4),ROW(A1)),2),””), from the tutorial: http://www.myonlinetraininghub.com/excel-factor-17-lookup-and-return-multiple-matches

Any detail you can give is important to help us understand exactly your situation.

You can use our Help Desk: http://www.myonlinetraininghub.com/helpdesk/

Catalin

ANIL says

THANKS

Mynda Treacy says

You’re welcome, Anil 🙂

Joe78man says

Hi Mynda,

Is there any formula to give the number and have in return its place?

‘Large’ returns the place of a number in a row. I want something going the other way. Such as =Place(array,cell)

e.g.:

A

1 12

2 5

3 7

4 1

5 8

Formula: =place(A1:A5,3)

Result: 8 (8 is the third higest value)

Thanks

Joe78man says

Or any other solution you might now in order to achieve the same goal. I have a list of values, I need to have a column with a number indicating its place in the list.

Mynda Treacy says

Hi Joe,

I’m confused. Isn’t 7 the third highest value? If so you could use this formula to return the location of 7 in the list:

Answer: 3 i.e. row number 3 in the list.

Where your list is in cells A1:A5.

Kind regards,

Mynda.

Ann Piech says

I need to extract (and sum) the largest 18 values from a set of 24. Is there a shorter command than replacing the {1,2,3} in your example by {1,2,3,4,etc}. I have tried using ROW(1:18) as the second argument to LARGE, but cannot properly copy and paste the command (the argument of ROW is updated according to the row of the new data).

Mynda Treacy says

Hi Ann,

You could do this:

=SUMPRODUCT(LARGE(A1:A24,ROW(1:18)))

Where your values are in cells A1:A24

Kind regards,

Mynda.

Kay Hawley says

add the three smallest values in 6 noncontiguous cells

Mynda Treacy says

Hi Kay,

I’m sorry I’ve taken so long to reply…I missed your comment.

=SUM(LARGE(B4,C6,D8,E10,F4,J8,{1,2,3}))

Kind regards,

Mynda.