When you work in Excel spreadsheets, it’s often useful to reference the column that a given value is contained in. But remember, spreadsheets can contain a vast number of columns. Rather than searching manually, Excel can quickly provide this information using a simple formula. Let’s learn how to use COLUMN in Microsoft Excel.
How to Use COLUMN in Excel
Before we use the COLUMN function in Excel, it’s useful to know how Excel counts columns. They count from left to right, beginning with column A. Column A is column 1, column B is column 2, column F is column 6, and so forth.
Imagine that you have a value in AZ350. You need to know what column number AZ is. Rather than counting across the columns manually, you can use Excel’s COLUMN function to instantly return the solution.
To use COLUMN, click into any empty cell in your worksheet. As with any formula, your first step is to type an = sign. This tells Excel that the cell contents will be formulas, rather than simple values.
Then, type COLUMN( to add the COLUMN function to your formula, which so far reads:
Next, you’ll need to enter your cell reference. Remember, here we need the column number where cell AZ350 is located. Type (or click on) cell AZ350:
This completes your formula. Press Enter on your keyboard, and Excel will instantly return the column number for cell AZ350:
Consider the logic. Column A is column 1; column Z is 26. The next range in Excel is AA through AZ, repeating the alphabet a second time. With 26 letters in the alphabet, repeated twice over, you arrive at AZ being column 52.
As you can see, the COLUMN function is a quick and easy lookup that you can build in Excel rapidly.