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# Retrieve lowest (furthest down) value in a column in Excel

Posted on 2011-02-17
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Hello,

In Excel (2007), what is the simplest single formula or combination of formulas which will retreive the lowest (furthest down) value in a colum?

For example, suppose that many but not all of the cells in the range A1:A999 contain values.  Moreover, suppose that you want a formula in cell A1000 which displays the value contained in the lowest cell in the column.

BTW, lowest cell here does not mean the one with the lowest or minimum value but means:

>the cell which is the greatest number of rows from the column headings
>the cell you'd be in if, from A1000, you press Ctrl+UpArrow
>all cells between it and A1000 are empty.

Thanks

Sorry for the overblown definition of "lowest" but a bunch of definitions came to mind so take your pick!  LOL

In fact, if you've got a better or goofier definition, it might add some levity to this otherwise very boring question -- so feel free!

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Accepted Solution

Ingeborg Hawighorst (Microsoft MVP / EE MVE) earned 2000 total points
ID: 34922788
Hello

In A1000 you can use

=index(A1:A999,match(99^99,A1:A999,1))

This is for numeric values. If the values are text, use

=index(A1:A999,match("zzzz",A1:A999,1))

cheers, teylyn
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Expert Comment

ID: 34922808
As for the terminology, "last populated cell in a range" springs to mind. Sounds pretty "geeky", but that's the jargon.
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Author Comment

ID: 34922939
Thanks teylyn,

Geeky or not, it's a better and more specific than any of my definitions!

BTW, can you explain the arguments you used (99^99 & "zzzz") for the 1st term in =Match()?

Thanks
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Expert Comment

ID: 34923038
Sure.

The Match() function has this syntax: Match(what, where, how).

"what" and "where" should be self-explanatory, but note that the range defined with "where" can be only a one-column range or a one-row range, e.g. A1:A100 or A1:Z1.

"how" can either be -1, 0 or 1. If you don't specify it, Excel assumes 1.

0 will find only an exact match to "what". It will return #N/A if no match is found. The range can be in any order.

1 will find the largest value that is less than or equal to "what". For this to work in a range of values, the values need to be sorted in ascending order. For example a list of values is 0,5,10,15,20 in A1:A5 -- Using Match(7,A1:A5,1) will return 2 because 5 is the largest value in the range that is less than or equal to 7. 5 is in the second position of the range. (Remember, Match() returns the position of the value, not the value itself.

Imagine that Match() with 1 as the last parameter will assume the list is sorted ascending and will start the comparison with "what" at the last cell of the range.

Now, if the list is not sorted in ascending order and "what" is an impossibly large number like 99^99, then the last populated cell of the range is the cell that is less than or equal to "what". Excel expects the list to be sorted ascending, hence the position of in the last populated cell of the range must be the one to be returned. 99^99 is so big that it is very unlikely to be an actual value in the list.

The same principle applies to text value, where in an alphabetically sorted list, the last text value would sit before the text "zzzz".

I hope that makes it a bit clearer.

cheers, teylyn
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Expert Comment

ID: 34923613
You can use this array formula for either numeric or text values

=INDEX(\$A\$1:\$A\$999,MAX(IF(A1:A999="",0,ROW(A1:A999))))

To enter an array formula you have to press shift-ctrl-enter.

Saqib
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Expert Comment

ID: 34925093
You can use LOOKUP formulas to do this Steve, i.e. for last numeric data

=LOOKUP(9.9E+307,A:A)

last text entry with

=LOOKUP(REPT("z",255),A:A)

or last entry, of whatever type with this version

=LOOKUP(2,1/(A:A<>""),A:A)

regards, barry
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Expert Comment

ID: 34925587
Another one of Barry's Beauties.

Salute

Saqib
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