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Excel COLUMN Function

We can use the excel COLUMN function to return the column number for a reference. Column function returns columns as numbers. For instance, Column B is 2 and Column C is 3. Without a reference, COLUMN function will return the column number of the cell containing the formula. The steps below will walk through the process.

Figure 1: How to Use Excel Column Function





Setting up the Data

  • We will set up data by inputting our Values in Column B
  • The COLUMN Function will return the result in Column C
  • We will use Cell E4 without a reference

Figure 2: Setting up the Data

Applying the COLUMN Function

  • We will click on Cell C4
  • We will insert the formula below into the cell
  • We will press the enter key

Figure 3: Returned Column number for Cell B4

  • We will click on Cell C4 again
  • We will double click on the fill handle tool which is the small plus sign you see at the bottom right of Cell C4. Select and drag down to copy the formula to other cells.

Figure 4: Returned Column number for Cell B4 to Cell B6

  • We will insert the formula without a reference into Cell E4 and press enter

Figure 5: Returned Column number without a reference for Cell E4



  • Column function returns the number of the first column in a range. For instance,=COLUMN(E4:G6) will return 5 as the result because the first column is Column E
  • Reference cannot include multiple references or addresses

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