In this tutorial, you will learn how to find the first column number in a range. As the name suggests COLUMN function is a formula combining ‘FIRST’ and ‘COLUMN’ condition. It implies that this function can return the column number for that reference when given a single cell reference or items that satisfy particular criteria. The Excel worksheet has a built-in function called the ‘COLUMN’ which returns the column number for that reference in a given single cell reference based on a single criterion.

# First column number in a range

# Formula

`= MIN (COLUMN [data])`

# Explanation

In an Excel worksheet, COLUMN function is entered as a part of a formula in a single cell along with the first column number in the range. The method of how to use this function as a formula explanation is in the next section.

Excel COLUMN function uses the following arguments:

**Range** (required): The range of a single cell reference for which the column number returns.

**Criteria** (required): It determines an array that contains the entire column numbers for the range. Note that this parameter has the limit to a column, number or a range and the function can use array constants.

**[Column range]** (Optional): MIN function alone can be used to remove only the first column number, being the lowest in an array if you want.

# Example 1

Now let us try how to apply the formula in an Excel worksheet and understand them to step by step.

Let us take a simple example as shown below. Suppose we have three days sales report. Our objective is to find the total amount earned on the first day.

*Figure 1. COLUMN function successfully applied to a single cell reference of 1st Sept sales.*

In the above sample, COLUMN function was applied to F5 [row5 column B] in a single cell reference of first column number in the range.

# Example 2

We can also try and apply the COLUMN function formula to return first column number in multiple columns. The ‘range’ here will be cell F5 (row 5 and column B) to F10 (row 10 and column B).

In that case, the COLUMN function will return an array from F5 [row5 and column B] to F10 [row 10 and column B] respectively as the first column numbers in the range.

*Figure 2. COLUMN function can return an array of ‘multiple columns’ that contains all the column numbers for the range based on the criteria.*

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