When you’re working with data, it’s often useful to determine how many ways there are to combine specific data points. For example, imagine that you have eight items, and want to know how many ways you can combine two of the items together. This can quickly become difficult if you try to calculate it manually. Fortunately, Excel has a formula just for you. Let’s learn how to use COMBIN in Microsoft Excel.
How to Use COMBIN in Excel
COMBIN is Excel’s combination function. By using it, you can quickly calculate how many possible combinations can be derived from a given dataset. There is one important note here – COMBIN will not support repetitions of the same value multiple times.
Let’s revisit our example situation above. You want to know how many three-item combinations you can derive from a list of eight items. For simplicity, let’s call the items A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H. Combinations would be ABC, ABD, and so forth. The COMBIN function doesn’t actually measure these units; instead, the key inputs will be 8 and 3, rather than actual letters or other units.
To use COMBIN, click into any empty cell in an Excel worksheet. Type =, which tells Excel that you’re inputting a formula. Then, type COMBIN( to insert the COMBIN function in your formula.
Now, Excel asks for two inputs: Number and Number Chosen. Number is the total number of items, in this case eight. Type 8, then a comma.
Number Chosen is the number of items in your desired combination. Here, that’s three. Complete your formula as follows:
Finally, hit Enter on your keyboard. Excel returns the number of possible three-item, non-repeating combinations derived from your dataset. In this example, there are 56 combinations.
As you can see, Excel’s COMBIN function makes it easy to determine the number of combinations you can create from a given dataset.