As you work with data inside Excel spreadsheets, you may find yourself needing to determine the number of possible combinations within your dataset. If you do this manually, it can quickly become tedious – especially if you need to include repetitions. Fortunately, Excel has a formula to do this work for you. Let’s learn how to use COMBINA in Microsoft Excel.
How to Use COMBINA in Excel
Imagine that you have a list of eight values, and you need to determine how many three-item combinations you can derive from the data. For example, let’s say that you have items A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H. Three-item combinations would include AAA, AAB, ABC, and so forth. Excel’s basic COMBIN function doesn’t recognize repeating values, so you’ll need to use the more advanced COMBINA function here.
To use COMBINA, click into any empty cell inside your Excel workbook. Start by typing an = sign. This tells Excel that you’re inputting a formula in the selected cell. Continue by typing COMBINA( to insert the COMBINA function in your formula.
Excel now asks for two inputs: Number and Number Chosen. Number represents the total number of items in your dataset. In this example, it’s eight, so type 8, followed by a comma:
Number Chosen is the number of items you want included in your combination. That’s three in this example, so you can complete your formula as follows:
Hit Enter on your keyboard, and Excel will return the number of possible combinations with repetitions: 120.
As you can see, the COMBINA function is a quick, easy, and versatile way to evaluate combinations within your dataset. Use it any time you need to find the total number of combinations possible with a given set of items – repeating values included.