Last week I received the following question from André:
“I need a formula that will count how many values in cells D4:D7 are listed in B4:B13. I don’t want to count the number of times they appear in column B, I just want to know how many values from column D are in column B“.
Here is the data:
The answer is 3. That is values C, D and E are in column B.
Now, we could use a helper column to check if the values in column D are in column B, and then count those that returned a match like this in column H:
There’s nothing wrong with helper columns. In fact they can be more efficient than using array formulas.
However, if you want a formula challenge then go ahead and see if you can write a formula that will return the count in a single cell. Don’t read any further until you’ve had a go yourself.
Excel COUNT MATCH Array Formula
I’m going to step through my approach, however I’m sure it’s not the only way so please share your ideas in the comments below.
Remember: array formulas are entered using CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER and the curly braces are automatically inserted by Excel.
Let’s step through how this COUNT MATCH array formula works. Here it is with colour coding:
The MATCH function looks up the values in cells D4:D7 and returns their position in cells B4:B13. If it doesn’t find a match it returns the #N/A error.
Normally the MATCH function looks up a single value, but because we’ve entered it as an array formula it will look up multiple values, in this case those in cells D4:D7.
When I evaluate the MATCH component of the formula it returns a list (or array) of the positions like so:
That is, C is the 4th item in the range B4:B13, D is the 5th item and E is the 8th item, as you can see below. H isn’t found so MATCH returns an error.
Note: MATCH returns the first instance of a value so the second and third instances of D are ignored. Perfect, that’s what we want.
Finally, the COUNT function simply counts how many numbers the MATCH function returns. Since #N/A is not a number it is ignored.
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Don’t forget to share your ideas for solving this challenge in the comments below.